Interviewing power couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka has a way of making a journalist feel a little superfluous.
Each high-energy multihyphenate — Harris, an actor/singer/comedian/writer, and Burtka, an actor/chef/cookbook author — likes to jump in and pose questions to the other, giving an observer a peek at the kind of patter-y banter you imagine forms the soundtrack to their #goals marriage.
The couple were in town this week from their home base in New York for another of their gigs: brand ambassadors for Capital One’s new dining-and-entertainment focused Savor credit card. We caught up with them at Adams Morgan’s hip new Line hotel to chat about dining in, why hosting the Oscars is so tough (Harris emceed the 2015 ceremony), and the surprising way they disagree over President Trump.
Instagramming food in restaurants: a do or a don’t?
NPH: The plating of the food is such an integral part of the dining experience — if it’s just food plopped on a plate, it’s less impressive, and therefore it tastes less impressive. So I honor the art of the plating — and the iPhone takes really good pictures of food, so you can really get up in there, and it looks good.
But are you one of those people who’s like, 'wait, nobody eat, I have to ‘gram it’?
DB: I’m pro Instagramming ... but sometimes it’s annoying, if I’m really hungry.
Quick game of ‘would you rather’: Would you rather eat in or go out?
DB: Eat in! I’m a chef, so I really like knowing where my food is coming from. I like to control the situation. I think there’s something to be said for being at home, with your family and having all the things you like around you. I think my kids would say the same.
NPH: We just spent a week at Disneyland, and the food was very good, but we kept talking about how we missed a home-cooked meal. While umami is the new flavor — right, it’s like the sixth sense? — now I think there’s an additional one, which is the flavor of food when you’re at home.
Did you make that up or is that a thing I don’t know about?
DB: Yeah, did you make that up? I love that.
NPH: Yes. It’s ‘hom-ami’! [laughs]. There’s something about knowing that David is cooking that Bolognese that we all love, and he knows that we love it — there’s an X factor to that that makes it more delicious.
Another “would you rather”: If you do go out, would you rather try the hot new place or the old fave?
DB and NPH: [in unison] Hot new place.
NPH: Our favorite way to go out is to go to a new restaurant and say, ‘we don’t need a menu.’ We’ll look at it, but we’ll say ...
DB: Have the chef cook something that turns them on — the food that they’re into.
NPH: We don’t have any allergies. We’re gluten-welcoming. And so if they bring out six courses of fun, that’s fantastic. It’s what I do with massages.
You just say, “whatever”?
NPH: I tend to say when the therapist asks “do you want deep tissue or do you want me to focus on a certain area?” I say, “I want you to give me the massage that you’re most proud of giving.”
I have never considered doing that. Okay, so the Trumps almost never eat out in Washington. The few times they have, it’s been at the steakhouse in his hotel. What does that say about them?
DB: Boooring. I think it’s boring.
NPH: I don’t know if it’s boring.
DB: It’s boring.
NPH: It’s entirely personal and completely circumstantial. He’s able to order exactly what he wants, and if he’s had a day’s worth of stresses that are unique to him I could imagine he would want to eat something that he wants to eat, as opposed to going somewhere and rolling the dice.
DB: But don’t you think that because he’s in Washington he should go out and experience things — and support the local businesses that are in his city that he’s living in right now?
NPH: I totally value that idea, for sure. But I could also see, after a long day of running the country, just wanting to eat in the kitchen.
Quick change of subject here — I have to ask about the Oscars-hosting gig. What do you make of the Kevin Hart controversy, and would you recommend that gig to anybody?
NPH: I think Kevin Hart would have been an excellent host. I know a lot of people have been turning it down. It’s a tough gig — it’s a beast.
DB: I wouldn’t say to anyone, “do it.”
NPH: If you tell jokes that are funny and offensive, you’re offending people. If you tell jokes that don’t offend anyone, then you’ll be hit for not going there. Jimmy Kimmel was great. I think it requires a specific person who hobnobs with celebrities, who’s able to look at a Matt Damon and make an acerbic joke at him but because you know that he knows and is friends with Matt Damon, you can laugh at the joke.
So I’m intrigued to see who they wind up with.