Barack Obama, the food critic from 2001: 'I do have to put in a plug for their peach cobbler'

Video from 2001 shows the then state senator recommending Dixie Kitchen, a restaurant that closed down in 2009

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The Independent Online

They say that George W Bush was the kind of president Americans could imagine having a (non-alcoholic) beer with.

With current White House resident Barack Obama, it seems you could definitely sit down and eat corn cakes and peach cobbler while discussing world affairs.

Video on YouTube shows an unaired 2001 episode with Obama on the PBS amateur food-critic television show, Check, Please!

Back then, Obama was a mere state senator in Illinois and it was only a year since he had run unsuccessfully in a Democratic primary race for the state's 1st congressional district. He later rose to national prominence with his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 in Boston.

The programme sees Obama list Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop as his favourite restaurant, an eatery in Hyde Park, Chicago, the longtime home of Obama and his family.

The restaurant - which closed down in 2009 soon after Obama was elevated to the White House - was well-known by locals for its Southern food with dishes such as deep-fried baby catfish with a side of corn and black eyed peas.

Obama says that one of the reasons he likes the now defunct restaurant was that "the prices are right and the portions are good.

"It's not gourmet cuisine, but that's not why I go to Dixie Kitchen. I'm not looking for some fancy presentation or extraordinarily subtle flavours, what I'm looking for is food that tastes good for a good price."

While Obama says he most recently ordered the Southern sampler, he admits to liking for the corn cakes although he says: "Those are pretty dangerous, you can fill up on them. I've learned from some past mistakes that I've got to be cautious."

He then adds, "I do have to put in a plug for their peach cobbler which people tend to gobble up pretty good".

Ever the politician and knowing he has to appeal to many demographics, Obama notes that while the prices are good, for the larger family they will have to be very careful when ordering from Dixie Kitchen

"You know, we only have two (kids)," he tells the presenter. "I can imagine families with five or six kids, boy, I'm going to look at that menu pretty carefully. So Dixie Kitchen is a good option for people."

He then emphasises how good a place like Dixie Kitchen is for the neighbourhood; Obama was the state senator for Illinois's 13th District at the time.

"It also goes to show how I think a lot of neighbourhoods, Hyde Park and the surrounding area, are communities that a lot of times are starved for restaurants, retailers," he says.

Obama adds, in a line he has since used many times in his two presidential campaigns, "I want to see our small business owners succeeding".

So, overall, what does the most powerful man in the world look for in a restaurant?

"Terrific value, savoury tasty food for a good price and a nice family atmosphere".

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