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Obamas' First D.C. Night Out: Birthday Dinner at Equinox

Equinox's Todd Gray (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

The burning question for Washingtonians: Will the new occupants of the White House be going-out types like the Clintons and the Bush 41s? Or will they be early-to-bed homebodies like George and Laura?

Still too soon to say. But the future first couple made their D.C. fine-dining debut last night at Equinox, a short jaunt across Lafayette Park from their temporary digs at Blair House.

It was an early birthday celebration for Michelle Obama, who turns 45 on Saturday. Our colleague Elissa Silverman reports that a party of 13 dined in a cozy private room, including the future first mother-in-law Marian Robinson, and close friend/senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. (Malia and Sasha were home in bed -- it's a school night, Michelle Obama later explained.)

Toward the end of the dinner, around 10 p.m., the group sang "Happy Birthday," with an extra "how old are you now?" verse. Moments later, a few voices broke out in the soulful Stevie Wonder version of the song, to much laughter.

Co-owners Todd Gray and his wife Ellen Gray said they were surprised that the reservation turned out to be for the Obamas but declined to say what name was given. They were told the reservation was for "two leaders." Michelle Obama arrived around 7:30 p.m.; her husband about a half hour later. Upon exiting the restaurant, about 10:30 p.m., both Mr. and Mrs. Obama shook hands with the restaurant staff and thanked them for the meal.

Todd Gray told Silverman the president-elect chose salad greens with chablis poached apples and picked watermelon radish as a first course. Mrs. Obama opted for the pan fried Rappahannock oysters. Both selected a grilled all-natural striploin steak for the main course. For dessert, Michelle Obama ordered the crispy bananas. Gray also provided a tasting menu during the meal and Zabaglione Gelato for dessert.

Gray said he was honored that Equinox was D.C.'s first "table-cloth restaurant" to host the president-elect and his wife for dinner, and even more thrilled it was for such a special occasion.

"The president and his wife cleaned their plates," said Gray. "Hopefully they will cross the park and come see us frequently."

By The Reliable Source  |  January 16, 2009; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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