PARIS - When in Paris, sometimes one restaurant in a night is just not enough. Certainly not if you happen to run a country.
French President Francois Hollande engaged in a game of speed dinner dating today when he booked not one, but two dinners for the same evening: the first with President Obama and the second with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Given the current state of world affairs, the idea of Obama and Putin's enjoying an intimate meal together was just not in the cards.)
Surrounded by aides and security detail, Hollande was spotted waiting anxiously outside Le Chiberta, a Parisian restaurant that was awarded one Michelin star, until President Obama arrived around 7:15 p.m. local time.
After his motorcade drove down Boulevard Hausmann and passed by the Arc de Triomphe, Obama met Hollande at Le Chiberta. Obama and Hollande snagged a private round table in the back of the restaurant where they also dined with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and Jacques Audibert, director of general and political and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But dinner guests didn't linger; they shared a meal together for just over an hour.
Located in the city's 8th arrondissement, or district, Le Chiberta was started by renowned French chef Guy Savoy in 2004. It is directed by Savoy's associates, Jean-Paul Montellier and Stephane Laruelle in the kitchen.
It's unknown what the two presidents ate, but the restaurant features a set menu that includes wine pairings to accompany dishes like "Duck liver foie gras and Timut pepper, crystallized kumquats," "Goat Sainte-Maure de Touraine, black olives tapenade," and "Saddle of lamb with thyme-lemon, poivrade artichokes and tomatoes 'petits farcis', lamb juice," among other items.
The price for the set menu: 155 euros, or about $211.
When dinner finished, Hollande rushed off to the Élysée Palace, just a mile away. He was set to dine there with Putin around 8:30 p.m.
French officials said they didn't think the double-dinner booking was anything extraordinary. The meetings were viewed as working dinners rather than leisurely meals. It wasn't necessarily about the food, which was likely tasty, but more about the dialogue.
Not to be outdone by Hollande's two dinner evening, Obama made a second stop on his night out in Paris.
He popped over to a restaurant a few blocks away - Restaurant Helen - to meet friends, including Rice, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and college friend Laurent Delanney. (We don't know whether Obama actually enjoyed a second meal or just a drink or maybe just conversation). The president stayed there for two hours before returning to the U.S. ambassador's residence where he is spending the night.
And Friday, Hollande, Obama and Putin are set to dine together - this time with the queen! Hollande will host heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II, who is in France for a state visit, at a luncheon at Chateau Benouville as part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.