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Eat and Drink

Blackbarn serving World Leader menu starting Presidents Day weekend

Enjoy dishes once served to the likes of former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

On Wednesday, John Doherty, chef and owner of Blackbarn Restaurant in Manhattan, talked about all the presidents for whom he has cooked through the years and how he's incorporating some of those presidential meals into his restaurant's World Leader menu. (Credit: David Handschuh)

This Presidents Day weekend, you can treat yourself like a head of state at chef John Doherty’s Blackbarn Restaurant.  

While the NoMad location won’t play “Hail to the Chief” as you walk in with your entourage, it will serve dishes that past world leaders once ate themselves as part of its chef’s table menu starting this Saturday.

Doherty has plenty of experience feeding presidents with different political perspectives and worldviews. He spent three decades in the kitchen at the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel — 23 of those years as executive chef — pleasing the palates of world leaders and their guests when they occupied the grand suites of the famed hotel, which closed a couple years ago to be converted into a condo-hotel.

During his time at the Waldorf, Doherty figures that he catered to the taste buds of 25 presidents from various countries each year while they were in town for the United Nations General Assembly or other state visits.

Doherty prepared everything from soup to nuts for officials, some of which he will have on his special five-course, World Leader menu, which will be available on Saturdays through March 16.

That includes a consommé and wild mushroom and truffle ravioli, served to former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a dinner hosted by former President Ronald Reagan and then-President-elect George H.W. Bush in 1988.

For a dinner hosted by former President Bill Clinton on Sept. 6, 2000, the chef made guests a seared Maine diver sea scallop with potato mousseline, chive emulsion and Oscetra caviar.

There’s a roast rack of Colorado lamb with rosemary jus former British Prime Minister John Major dined on during a dinner with George H.W. Bush, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft.

And for dessert, there’s the chocolate caramel tart with gold leaf and raspberry coulis that former President George W. Bush enjoyed after an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007.

As for one dinner that couldn’t be, if Doherty were to feed the first president of the United States, he’d incorporate a chopped-down cherry tree in his menu for George Washington.

“I would make a cherry chutney to go with roast duck,” said the chef. “We could probably roast a whole suckling pig over the cherry wood and then we can smoke some pork belly and save it for a later day. He’ll need that rich fat to get across the Delaware in the winter.”

As for dessert, it would probably be “some kind of a chocolate bourbon cherry brownie with bourbon ice cream,” Doherty said. “I’d finish dinner with chocolate and cherries, because chocolate and cherries is a great match.”


Blackbarn Restaurant's World Leader chef's table dinner is Saturdays through March 16 for $165/person | 19 E. 26th St., 212-265-5959,  


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