15-Year-Old Clip of Obama on Food Show Resurfaces

Then-state Senator Barack Obama discusses making reservations and South Side dining in the episode filmed in 2001

It’s strange now to think of President Obama enduring a long wait to be seated at a restaurant, but 15 years ago, that’s exactly what he did. Obama talked about reservations and dining out in a 2001 episode of WTTW’s restaurant review show “Check, Please!” that resurfaced this weekend.

”Check, Please!” features three Chicagoans outside the food industry, who each recommend a restaurant for the other guests to try. They then review each other’s choices with the host. The show’s 15th season finale aired Friday night, and featured a clip of an old episode where Obama was a guest.

Obama’s episode was filmed on Aug. 14, 2001, but didn’t air until 2009, shortly before Obama’s presidential inauguration. At the time of Obama’s appearance, he was a state senator, representing parts of Chicago’s South Side including the Hyde Park neighborhood.

“We've got a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old so going out to a restaurant is a really big deal,” Obama said, referring to daughters Malia and Sasha, while reviewing Wicker Park bistro Le Bouchon.

“The only thing that makes me hesitant about going to Le Bouchon is just getting a reservation,” he said, adding, “The days are passed where my wife and I can eat a 9 o’clock dinner.”

The full segment can be seen on the show’s website, where Obama recommends Hyde Park’s Dixie Kitchen, which closed in 2009, but has other locations in Evanston and Lansing.

Then-host Amanda Puck opens the conversation with a joke, saying, “So Barack, it looks like you’re served some liberal portions there,” to which Obama responds by praising cheap food and big portions.

“The prices are right and the portions are good,” he said, later adding, “I’m not looking for some fancy presentation or subtle flavors, what I’m looking for is food that tastes good for a good price.”

He ends by giving an impassioned plea for restaurateurs to bring their businesses to the South Side.

“Particularly on the South Side, a lot of times we don’t have the same number of options that some of the Northwest Side neighborhoods do, like Lincoln Park or Bucktown, so restaurateurs that are out there, just want to let you know that if you give good value, and are not too expensive, you can do some good business on the South Side of Chicago.” 

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