President Donald Trump is going to be asking for a lot of action from Congress in the coming weeks and months, and this week he’s already hosted two dinners at the White House as a way to talk things out.
Whether it’s relaxing in his Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this year with the Japanese prime minister and later the Chinese president, or bringing bipartisan groups of congressional leaders together for dinner at the White House, Trump appears to know the value in breaking bread.
Unlike formal state dinners, where the menu is typically chosen with an eye for symbolic detail and regularly released by the White House, the courses at these more intimate dinners are not always released. Here is a rundown of the culinary choices that we know about.
Formal meal, public display for Mitt Romney
Evan Vucci/AP PhotoDonald Trump, center, eats dinner with Mitt Romney, right, and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges restaurant, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York.
Just weeks after the election, then-President-elect Trump and his incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus had dinner with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Jean Georges restaurant in New York City.
The dinner took place while Trump was openly deciding who he should pick as his secretary of state, and they enjoyed a number of haute cuisine dishes.
The trio had the same appetizers — young garlic soup with thyme and sautéed frog legs as well as diver scallops with caramelized cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion, and dessert: chocolate cake. But they ordered different main dishes. Trump and Priebus had prime sirloin with citrus glazed carrots while Romney had lamp chops with a mushroom bolognaise sauce.
Dinner and a side show
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his wife Akie Abe, first lady Melania Trump and Robert Kraft sit down for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Feb. 10, 2017.
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife traveled to Mar-a-Lago in February, they had dinner on the exclusive club’s outdoor patio, with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft joining the group.
The menu of this particular dinner wasn’t the main focus of the night, however.
The table was within view of any other members who were dining on the patio that night, and the guests went on to be surprised when they saw Trump receive a briefing about a North Korean ballistic missile test.
One guest, who had joined her friends for a birthday party there, took pictures as Trump and Abe worked on the dimly lit outdoor patio.
The guest, who asked not to be named, told ABC News that she was sitting near Trump and Abe, and walked up to their roped off table to take photos at 10:17 p.m. Roughly 20 minutes later, Trump and Abe gave a brief joint statement from a gilded room inside Mar-a-Lago.
“I went up to the rope and he was more than happy to smile for a photo!” the guest wrote in a message to ABC News. “He just smiled when he saw I was taking a photo! He was also waving.”
Chocolate cake and air strikes
Doug Mills/The New York Times/ReduxPresident Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping of China speak during a dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., April, 6, 2017.
When the Trumps hosted Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife at Mar-a-Lago in April it was a more formal affair.
According to the press pool covering the event, the menu included Caesar salad and pan-seared Dover sole fish, herb-roasted potatoes and haricots vert or New York strip steak, whipped potatoes and roasted root vegetables.
Dessert reportedly included options of chocolate cake with vanilla sauce and dark chocolate sorbet or a sorbet trio, and according to a later interview that Trump gave, it appears that the two world leaders opted for the chocolate cake.
“I was sitting at the table, we had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert, and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you have ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it,” Trump said in a later interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo.
“And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do? And we made a determination to do it,” Trump said about his decision to sign off on airstrikes targeting a Syrian airfield in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons.
Tailoring the menu for Trump
When the president made his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in May, coordinators were purposeful in making sure that the menu was made-to-order.
According to The Associated Press, caterers were planning to serve steak with ketchup alongside lamb, and the meat would be prepared in a Shariah-compliant halal manner.
What’s on the menu at home
One of the clearest pictures of how dinners on normal nights at the White House unfold came in an article from Time Magazine in May.
Trump reportedly was automatically brought Diet Coke while other diners received water, Thousand Island dressing alongside his salad while others were brought creamy vinaigrette, and he got an extra plate of sauce for his chicken main course.
He also was reportedly given two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie while the other guests got one scoop. Vice President Mike Pence was treated to a fruit plate instead.
Ice cream makes a repeat appearance
On Tuesday Sept. 12, when Trump had dinner with a bipartisan group of senators to talk about tax reform among other topics, he reportedly returned to one of his favorite desserts.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told CBS that they had beef medallions for dinner followed by what sounds like vanilla ice cream.
“The ice cream was so perfectly prepared. The ice cream came beside the dessert… and it looks like an egg. I wondered why I was getting an egg with my dessert. I cut into it. It was beautifully sculpted ice cream,” Manchin told CBS.
A mix of Chinese food and chocolate cake
Trump continued his bipartisan dinner streak by bringing House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., over for dinner on Wednesday Sept. 13.
According to sources familiar with the dinner, the two leading Democrats, the president and a handful of White House senior staffers were served honey sesame crispy beef and chocolate cream pie.