At Blue Hill, It's President and Mrs. Foodie
By Garance Franke-Ruta
President and Michelle Obama can cross another restaurant off their foodie must-visit list.
In Manhattan on Saturday to see a production of the Tony-nominated August Wilson play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," President Obama and his wife Michelle, wearing a chic black dress and carrying a blue clutch, first traveled to Greenwich Village for a meal at cozy, romantic Blue Hill on Washington Place.
The visit to the unobtrusive, below-street level restaurant can be read as yet another sign that the Obamas are serious diners fond of top-notch restaurants that, coincidentally, also deliver a distinct agricultural political message.
Blue Hill is known in New York as one of the city's premier farm-to-table dining spots, and the former speakeasy space has been described by New York magazine as possibly "the best low-profile restaurant in town." Diners can opt for a regular menu of Hudson-Valley grown and -raised dishes or the full "Farmer's Feast," a five-course tasting inspired by the week's harvest.
A spokesperson for the restaurant declined to comment on the Obamas' visit, but the New York Daily News reported the first lady had two martinis and the president the wine that accompanied the tasting menu. The restaurant erupted in applause as the first diners stood up to leave.
Opened in 2000, Blue Hill is today part of a regional network of restaurants that includes Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantino Hills, N.Y., as well as the more casual Blue Hill Cafe there.
All draw heavily on produce and animals raised at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantino Hills and the 138-acre Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass. (You can see a map of the farm network and its food supply chain here.)
Chef and co-owner Dan Barber, like many advocates of locavore dining, is active in the contemporary food policy debate; a year ago he penned a New York Times op-ed riffing off the Obama campaign slogan to argue for "Change We Can Stomach" and a nationwide network of specialized small-scale farms.
Posted at 2:34 PM ET on May 31, 2009
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