Saturday, April 24, 2010

Asheville, NC: Obamas Dine At Corner Kitchen

The President had Mahi Mahi...
On the second day of a weekend getaway that featured a long golf game for President Obama, and tennis for First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as an architectural tour of the Biltmore House, the First Couple capped a rainy Asheville day with dinner at the Corner Kitchen. The restaurant is known for "the finest casual cuisine," with embroideries on American classics. It also uses specialty organic produce grown by sous chef Josh Weeks at his own farm.

The eatery is in a converted Victorian house in the Biltmore Village, a local hot spot for shopping and dining. It was a double-double date night: The First Couple were joined by the Nesbitts and Whitakers, two couples who are family friends from Chicago, and also spending the weekend in Asheville. They dined in an upstairs room of the restaurant. (Above: The President waves at the press pool)

The menu...
The Corner Kitchen is cheffed by co-owner Joe Scully. Pool was held in a Mexican restaurant nearby while the Obamas dined, and so could provide no exact details of what was enjoyed; nor did Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton tweet details, as he did yesterday, when the Obamas had lunch at 12 Bones Smokehouse. But of course the local newspaper, the Asheville Citizen-Times, got the details of what the President ate from Sheny Lenhart, the daughter of one of the restaurant's co-owners. (Above: President Obama waves farewell as he leaves the restaurant; his official photogrpaher, Pete Souza, is in plaid)

Lenhart told the Citizen-Times she was not at the restaurant when the President and Mrs. Obama arrived, but returned immediately when she got a text message from her father announcing the news.

“I introduced myself and he said I had a beautiful name, and I told him he had a beautiful name,” Lenhart said about her meeting with the President (she introduced herself with her full name, Shenandoah). “Michelle said the same thing, and I told her ‘I like your shoes.' I'm still shaking. He's my idol."

Lenhart said President Obama had the Mahi Mahi entree for dinner, which is listed on the menu as Macadamia Nut Pesto Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Coconut Rice, Snap Peas and Pineapple Salsa. It's $22, and the total dinner bill was $284.35.

Menu offerings at Corner Kitchen change frequently, and the rest of Saturday's were impressive. Appetizers included Corn Fried Oysters- Quick Fried and Served with Arugula, Tomatoes and Mustard Drizzle ($8); Corner Calamari- Crispy & Tossed with Peppers, Onions, Jerk Seasoning and Mango Mayo ($10); and Almond Crusted Brie- On Melon Noodles with Crostinis and Balsamic Tossed Strawberries ($9).

Entrees were equally impressive: Walnut Crusted Chilean Salmon over Orzo Salad with Italian Style Greens and Tomato Aioli ($22); Black Pepper Molasses Pork Chop on Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Southern Style Green Beans ($21); Sweet Mustard Glazed Three Meat Meatloaf with Collards, Cheddar Gritsand Three Sauces ($18); Country Fried Portabello Cap with Sweet Potato Salad, Butter Beans and Pepper Sage Gravy ($17). Read the full menu for this evening here [PDF]

The tour...and White House business
The Biltmore Village was formerly a classic planned community, at the entrance to the Biltmore House, said to be the largest privately owned home in America, with 250 rooms and 65 fireplaces. Owner Bill Cecil, Jr., and the Cecil family extended an invitation to the Obamas to visit, after they discovered the First Couple was going to vacation in Asheville. Cecil and other family members led the Obamas on a 45-minute tour before the dinner at Corner Kitchen; they did not know if the invitation had been accepted until today, according to the Citizen-Times. A downpour prohibited a tour of the vast gardens, which were originally designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the vacay video, below, from the ABC news affiliate, a lucky local girl, Olivia Linderman, displays the golf ball the President gave her during his golf game at Grove Park Inn, the resort where the Obamas are staying.

And of course White House business continues when the President is on vacation: Deputy Press Secretary Burton told reporters that President Obama had been "briefed on the tragedy in Mississippi and the situation is being followed by the White House." At least nine people were killed when tornadoes and storms swept across the state earlier in the day. The President also issued a statement on the anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Turkey, although the statement didn't use the word "genocide."

On Sunday, President Obama will travel to West Virginia, to give the eulogy for the miners lost in the tragedy at the Big Branch Mine explosion.

Info: Corner Kitchen is at 3 Boston Way, Historic Biltmore Village, Asheville, North Carolina, 28803. Phone: 828.274.2439. Website is here.

Related: Yesterday's Asheville Obama Foodie Outing was to 12 Bones Smokehouse, for lunch. Obama foodie homage: Asheville Brewing Company's President's Spring Break Ale. Asheville calls itself Foodtopia.

*Photos: Top and bottom by Reuters; middle by AP.