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Frank Bruni, food critic (for now??) at the New York Times and former George W. Bush 2000 campaign reporter, is very upset with the Obamas’ choice of fancy restaurant for their date in New York City over the weekend, where they saw a lite romantic comedy about the horrific aftermath of slavery. Bruni writes, “Well, of course the Obamas went to Blue Hill,” for the five or six humans on Earth, ever, who might understand what he means. Apparently this is what he WOULD do, because he’s too cool & safe or whatever? No one knows.

If you’d known in advance that they were going to spend Date Night in Manhattan and had to guess where they’d dine, wouldn’t it be the smart-money bet?

Ho ho ho, indeed. Food!

It’s the proper ethical call, the proper message to send, the proper restaurant segue from the planting of the White House garden. It summons all the correct adjectives: local, seasonal, organic, humane.

And — no argument — it’s an excellent restaurant, very much among the city’s standouts. It’s a romantic one, too, with its townhouse setting and dim lighting and sense of calm. So Date Night at Blue Hill makes some sense.

And yet.

In the very predictability of this choice, in its all-too-neat squaring with the officially sanctioned food agenda, in its absence of surprise or abandon, isn’t it ever so slightly disappointing? Just a little too pat and controlled?

During the 2008 campaign Mr. Obama sometimes came across — and was often portrayed — as someone almost joylessly disciplined and restrained around food, and that discipline and restraint went hand in hand with an unflappability that, on occasions, made it difficult for him to connect.


Jesus. Just shut up, right?

All the President’s Rhubarb [NYT]

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