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Obama’s dinner with GOP senators: What they ate, what it cost

Much mystery still shrouding the president’s dinner at the Jefferson Hotel with 12 key Republican senators, but now it can be told: There was a vegetarian in the mix.

Who? Reps for restaurant wouldn’t say.

From left: Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI, Senator Thomas Coburn, R-OK, Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Senator Richard Burr, R-NC, and Senator Bob Corker, R-TN, outside the Jefferson Hotel following a dinner with US President Barack Obama on March 6, 2013 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Ron Johnson, Senator Thomas Coburn, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Richard Burr, and Senator Bob Corker, outside the Jefferson Hotel. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama and his guests ordered from a three-course prix-fixe menu. The White House specifically requested that the staff of Plume restaurant include the Maryland blue crab risotto appetizer and filet of prime beef entree among the options. . .  soooo, does that mean that’s what the president ordered? The restaurant wouldn’t say.

But we do know that of the 16 people seated in the hotel’s private Parlor Boardroom (including the 12 senators and presumably a handful of staffers), there were six orders of the filet, five of the Colorado lamb açaí, four Lobster Thermidors, and one special-ordered vegetarian plate. Dessert options included peanut butter crumble, heart of guana chocolate tart and iced Tahitian vanilla and praline bar.

The president had arranged for the $85 per person tab (not including tax or tip) to be billed directly to the White House. The hotel was sworn to secrecy on the question of whether or not wine was ordered or consumed.

Plume restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel. (James Thresher/The Washington Post)

Plume first opened in 2009, not long after the historic Jefferson Hotel (whose owner, Connie Milstein, is a prominent Democratic donor) underwent an extensive renovation. It provides a decidedly luxurious dinining experience, our critic colleague Tom Sietsema wrote that year: “Illuminated by crystal chandeliers and animated by a dancing fire, Plume refuses to acknowledge economic hard times. Would the gentleman like a velvet stool for his attache case? (Oh, why not?)”

Attendees Wednesday night included John McCain, Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, Kelly Ayotte, Dan Coats, Richard Burr, Mike Johanns, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, John Hoeven, Saxby Chambliss, and Lindsey Graham.

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Amy Argetsinger is an editor for the Style section.



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Amy Argetsinger · March 7, 2013

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