Still waiting for President Bush

Chef Geoff Tracy, the moving force behind the two restaurants bearing his name, is still waiting for George W. Bush to keep the campaign promise he made while running for president in 2000.

Tracy’s wife, NBC-TV White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell, was covering then-Gov. Bush at the time and told him that Tracy was about to open a restaurant near American University. Bush promised her that if elected, he’d come to dinner.

patrick g. ryan
Chef Geoff Tracy at his restaurant on 14th Street.

“Every Christmas we get invited to the White House Christmas party, and she reminds the president of his promise,” the 31-year-old Boston native said while waiting for his wife to return from a weeklong trip with the Bush campaign shortly before the Republican National Convention. “And he laughs and says, ‘Well, I guess we’ll have to chalk that up as another broken campaign promise.’”

Even though the second restaurant Tracy opened — near the National Press Building, two years ago — is only a few blocks from the White House, Bush is unlikely to keep his promise before the November election. That’s too bad because he’d find a first-rate dining experience at either restaurant as well as plenty of prospective voters.

Both of the Chef Geoff’s restaurants — downtown and uptown — are worth a visit, especially since Jeffrey’s at the Watergate, the Austin, Texas, import that was a Bush favorite, has closed (it recently reopened under its old name, Aquarelle) and another Bush favorite, Peking Gourmet, is in far-off Falls Church, Va.

If the president is on a health kick, he could order the almond-crusted Atlantic salmon, as I did at a recent dinner with members of my college alumni association, including Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.), at the downtown Chef Geoff’s. The sea-fresh salmon was cooked medium rare, as I had asked, served with couscous loaded with sweet currants and apricots and bathed in a Tunisian sweet-pepper coulis.

Or Bush could sample two other piscatorial choices: pan-roasted halibut in champagne broth with roast potatoes, artichokes and haricot verts, and walnut-crusted trout with saut