UPDATE: The President and First Lady visited Sweet Life again, during their second summer on island in 2010
Vineyard residents were more thrilled than surprised when President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived last night for dinner at The Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, because owner Pierre Guerin is still telling the story of a "legendary" 2007 Obama dinner.
Guerin claims the Obama dinner, which happened when the First Couple were campaigning on island, lasted 3 1/2 hours. Plus, Chelsea Clinton's a regular at the eatery. (Above: President Obama entering the restaurant; the First Lady is in the white dress)
Still, Oak Bluffs was more of an excited mess than usual last night (it's always very busy in the summer, with shops, restaurants and bars open late, and lots of fun stuff for kids, like the Flying Horses Carousel). A big crowd of onlookers rapidly formed after streets were closed down and Secret Service started crawling the rooftops.
The President waved at the gathered crowd pre-dinner as he stepped out of The Beast, and the crowds remained in place through the entirety of the Obama meal--which lasted through sunset and into the night. There was more waving in the darkness as the Obamas left.
The First Couple were joined by President Obama's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett (in photo) and Obama family friend Eric Whitaker at the French-American restaurant, which is Exec Cheffed by Scott Ehrlich, and features contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on local catch and locally grown bounty from the many Vineyard farms. Apps are $12-16 dollars, entrees range from $32-$42. Check out the menus here--but dishes frequently change, based on availability and season. No word on what the Obamas ate.
There was no quick presidential zipping into Offshore Ale Co. for some swell after-dinner Presidenti-Ale, their new Obama Brew. Offshore's a couple blocks away... (above: The big crowd of onlookers behind the Presidential barricade)
The dinner at The Sweet Life doesn't qualify as an Official Obama Vineyard Date Night, however, because Jarrett and Whittaker were among the diners. The Obamas also went to pre-dinner cocktails at Jarrett's Oak Bluffs home, which is a couple blocks from the restaurant, and were stalked by the now-ever-present Presidential Paparazzi; here's a pic from the indoor-outdoor shindig:
Locals are also expecting an Obama dinner visit to Deon's, which is near Sweet Life in Oak Bluffs, because it's the only black-owned restaurant on island.
That's probably not enough of a reason for an Obama visit, so here's a better one: Chef Deon Thomas serves a fusion of New England classics and Caribbean cuisine, with an emphasis on spiciness, a Presidential favorite. Also on the local Obama Might Do List: State Road, an eatery that's much closer to their island residence, Blue Heron Farm, in West Tisbury. The upscale American cuisine by Chef Kenworth Jackson is a big draw, but there's another White House connection--the interior was created by designer by Michael S. Smith, who is re-doing the Private Residence at the White House. West Tisbury is a dry town, however, so the Obama's will have to bring their own wine....(Update: Locals were disappointed on all counts; none of these restaurant visits happened)And tonight, out in Aquinnah, which is much closer to Blue Heron farm than anything Down Island, Chef Julie Vanderhoops' Orange Peel Bakery is having their weekly community pizza night. You bring ten bucks, and some toppings, drop the cash in a donation box, and add your toppings to a communal table. Then you select whatever toppings you want--yours or someone else's--and your very own personal pizza is created by the bakery staff. Food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule, who summers on the Vineyard, has written a funny open letter to the Obamas on her blog 5 second rule, inviting them to attend, as a way of really getting into the whole local foods/community thing on the Vineyard. It's a swell idea, but natch, raises all kinds of security concerns...especially since the Obamas don't have an Official Food Taster with them, wink wink wink...
*The Sweet Life Cafe is at 63 Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, MA, 02557. Phone: 508-696-0200. Website is here.
*Related Vineyard Posts: Sam Kass golfs with POTUS is here; Baker in Chief Carol McManus's recipe for the Obama Muffin is here; Do the Obamas have a food taster on the Vineyard? is here; Foodie Homage vs. Invasion of Privacy is here; Barocky Road Fudge and Yes We Candy is here; A chat with Neil Atkins, master brewer of the new Presidenti-Ale is here; The awesome pre-visit Rumors, Facts & Barack-O-Tacos/Obamatini is here; Waiting for the First Family is here; info on Blue Heron Farm is here. Photos: POTUS at Valerie Jarrett's house by Steve Heaslip; Sweet Life photos from AP; Pizza image from Cheryl Sternman Rule