By Kris Kitto - 01/21/09 05:43 PM EST
In Washington, the stars went for a variety of local foods, include steak, pan-fried oysters and sushi.
We know Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton likes Restaurant Nora, and we know members of Congress can often be seen power-lunching at Bistro Bis. With this week’s Inauguration festivities attracting Hollywood stars en masse, we now know where celebrities like to eat when in Washington.
Following is a rundown of the local restaurants that made it to the top of visiting celebrities’ must-eat lists.
Cha opens with a bang
Chef Todd English has yet to open his new restaurant, Cha, to the public, but he did invite celebrity guests to dine there between the nightly Inaugural balls and galas.
Jon Bon Jovi, Dana Delaney, Sheryl Crow and Lenny Kravitz had meals at the Asian-inspired restaurant, and English said he also prepared room service for Leonardo DiCaprio. (Though restaurant personnel refused to say where he stayed, Cha is located inside the Hotel Donovan on Thomas Circle.)
Bon Jovi loved the food, English said Tuesday.
“He came down this morning raving about it,” he said. “He said the sushi was off the charts, and the beef skewers, too.”
Equinox gets a presidential boost
The week before Inauguration festivities kicked off, President Obama hosted a birthday party for first lady Michelle, at which he ate some of her pan-fried oysters off her plate because they were so good, special-events coordinator Caitlin Schaffer said.
The restaurant’s location — two blocks from the White House — bodes well for future visits from the first couple, but meanwhile, vegetarians might want to give it a try, based on actress Lisa Edelstein’s recommendation.
“It was delicious, and they have a beautiful vegetarian plate,” said Edelstein, who appears on the Fox show “House.”
The restaurant’s vegetarian plate includes braised mustard greens, fingerling potatoes, caramelized cauliflower and spaghetti squash.
Equinox also hosted Kathy Bates, Geraldo Rivera, Mitt Romney and Itzhak Perlman during Inauguration.
The Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton: Eat where you sleep
Many of the big names bunked at Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel and Ritz-Carlton Hotel. It makes sense, then, that many of them ate there, too.
A waiter at the Ritz-Carlton’s Fahrenheit restaurant said the stars have largely been spending time in the hotel’s lounge area.
“Primarily soda water,” he said of what they’ve been drinking. Hotel personnel have seen the likes of Dave Chappelle, Ben Affleck and Stevie Wonder in the lounge this week.
At The Huffington Post party Monday, Judith Light, who made her name on the 1980s sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” and is now seen on ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” said she was excited to try The Four Seasons’ new restaurant, celebrity chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak.
Star Jones, a former panelist on “The View,” was also spotted lunching Monday at the Four Seasons by Vaughn Franklin, nephew to singer Aretha.
At The Source, celebrity chef feeds celebrities
It’s no surprise that Wolfgang Puck, who made his name in Los Angeles and has catered the Oscars for years, would play host to celebrities at his Washington restaurant, The Source.
Sharon Stone and Forest Whitaker shared a meal there while in town for Inauguration. They ate the menu’s Assam vegetables, warm Maine lobster-daikon roll, steak au poivre, grilled lamb chops and pan-roasted rockfish with red Thai curry shrimp.
Wine bottles uncorked at Oya
Andrew Stover, the sommelier at Oya, served fine wines to the band Maroon 5 on Saturday night while new Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a restaurant regular, dined with a group of 15 at the same time.
“The band Maroon 5 is here … munching on sushi platters and drinking South African wine,” Stover said. The lead singer, Adam Levine, wanted a South African wine called Pinotage, but Stover didn’t have any. He gave Levine a Bordeaux-style red blend instead.
“He loves it,” Stover said.
Warner and his party also ate sushi and drank California wines.
Oprah’s Washington headquarters
This is a sighting that can be filed in the “no surprise” category, considering their close connection. Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, Art Smith, opened Art and Soul on Capitol Hill last year. So he cooked brunch for Winfrey and a private party on Sunday.
At the private party were a long list of notable people, including former President Clinton, Oprah’s best friend Gayle King, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rodgers, Maria Pinto (one of Michelle Obama’s favorite fashion designers), Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) and more. “Everyone ate Chef Art’s Maryland-style fried chicken, babycakes, Allen Brothers lamb focaccia sandwiches and mint chimi churri, mini hoecakes, roasted mushroom skewers, mac-n-cini, fried butternut squash ravioli, Kobe beef corndogs and more,” wrote spokeswoman Heather Shaw Menis in an e-mail.
What Smith served the queen of talk for brunch, however, is a secret.
“He served a family-style meal for Oprah’s brunch, but that is all the info I can get on it as it was a very private event for her and he wants to respect that,” Shaw Menis said.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a Washington institution that many big names want to try for themselves. (Obama recently ate there with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.)
On Tuesday morning, the burger joint was an unofficial media headquarters, with radio personalities broadcasting live and camera crews roaming the crowd.
Co-owner Nizam Ali said musician Usher and comedians Tommy Davidson and Michael Collier ate at the counter restaurant during Inauguration.
“I had two chili dogs and chili fries, lemon pound cake and vanilla ice cream,” Davidson said.
Did he like it?
“You know it was good,” he said.
The tried-and-true steakhouses
Two actors said that, when in Washington, they eat the traditional Washington power food: steak.
Television actor Rick Schroder got carnivorous while here.
“I had a good steak at Morton’s the other night,” he said.
“Desperate Housewives” star Dana Delaney, who comes to Washington frequently as an advocate for The Creative Coalition, said she likes The Capital Grille.
“You always see someone there,” she said.