I’m exactly the kind of person who reads restaurant menus online, even if I’ll probably never go to a particular restaurant. I’m a particular eater and I loathe most cheese-intensive dishes, so I like to check out which restaurants shove cheese into every f–king dish and which restaurants are friendlier to the cheese-averse among us. In any case, if I’m going to a restaurant for the first time, I probably already know what I’m going to order because I’ve already looked at the menu. I don’t expect that of my dinner mates though, and I always love to hear what other people decide to order. It’s apparently different for President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. The Bidens recently went to dinner at one of their favorite DC spots, Red Hen. They ordered the same dish. People are freaking out about it!
Where and what presidents eat is an enduring fascination. We love to scrutinize former president Donald Trump’s ketchup-doused steaks or the Obamas’ penchant for culinary hot spots. And so when President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, recently dined out in Washington at the popular Red Hen in Bloomingdale, their order — a chicory salad, grilled bread and butter, and two bowls of rigatoni — drew attention, and ultimately set off a virtual food fight.
It wasn’t what they ate, exactly, that got people all worked up. Their choices were on-brand: The Bidens are well known to be fans of red-sauced pasta. And they hadn’t opted for some culinary lightning rod, such as foie gras or pizza topped with pineapple. It was the mere fact that they both ordered the same entree that set group chats and social media sideline commenters ablaze across the land.
For many, it’s verboten to choose the same entree as one’s dining partner. Hannah Madden, a 24-year-old Washington resident who does fundraising for a political nonprofit, is firmly in this camp. “Getting the same thing as the person you’re eating dinner with is silly,” she says. “The whole point of going out to eat is getting to try as many things as possible.”
For her and others, the discussion that ensued after the Bidens made news for their matching order revealed just how deeply people hold their beliefs about how couples (and friends, even) should handle restaurant orders. “At first, I thought, it’s funny that everyone is in such a twist about this,” Madden said. “And then I realized, ‘Oh wait, I’m in a twist about this!’”
I understand why people have opinions on this because… I do too? I think it’s fine that they ordered the same dish. They’re not 20-somethings looking to experiment on their date night. They’re older people who know what they like, and they probably went to Red Hen specifically because they were both craving rigatoni and/or because they knew they would get exactly what they wanted. Anyway, I love that this is a thing, actually! I love these minor “scandals” of the Biden administration. Oh noes, Dr. Biden and President Biden both ordered rigatoni!
In case you want to see the Red Hen’s menu, go here. I would probably order the pork chop? They have gelato on the dessert menu too, I wonder if President Biden got some gelato instead of ice cream.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Cover Images.
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