By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2010; C02
With the first lady on vacation in Spain, President Obama shared his birthday with the woman in the No. 2 spot in the presidential line of dining companions: Oprah.
POTUS and Winfrey celebrated No. 49 Wednesday evening in Chicago at Graham Elliot, a self-described "bistronomic" restaurant with a mission to mingle haute cuisine and a casual vibe. Yes, there's the $34 Wagyu steak with charred cipollini and cabernet jam, but there's no dress code and no white tablecloths -- perhaps a perfect centrist choice for a man whom peanut-gallerists alternately peg as an elitist (most recently for his Supreme Court pick, who shares his Harvard pedigree) and/or a slummer (for subjecting himself to the women of "The View").
Celebrations began earlier in the day with cupcakes available to all in the White House: chocolate-peanut butter, lemon meringue and chocolate with yellow cake. Obama did receive a gift from the Secret Service, according to a White House staffer, but no one knows what it was (so secret!). A random gentleman outside the gates of the White House encouraged passersby to sign an unauthorized birthday card for the president; as of press time, there was no information on whether the card was delivered.
Later in the day, the president flew to Chicago for dinner on W. Huron Street. The restaurant would not comment on the dinner party's dining choices, but there was a side of Gayle (King, that is) and USA Today reports that the table was rounded out by adviser Valerie Jarrett and friends Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt. The president wore a black suit, white shirt and no tie, and went back home to his Second City residence.
Last year, the Obamas celebrated at Camp David, and the White House press corps sang "Happy Birthday" to him in the briefing room. The year before he was on the campaign trail, three months away from winning the presidency.
There will be a private birthday party Sunday when the family is back together, according to the N.Y. Daily News. Next stop: The big 5-0, whose celebrations will likely be dampened by the advance prep work for Election 2012.