It was less than two months ago that Jared Kushner, the White House’s Trump-whispering adviser, was spotted in Williamsburg with wife Ivanka Trump, putting fork to pasta at Lilia, an acclaimed Italian joint on Union Avenue.
The December outing in Brooklyn would seem a departure from Kushner’s usual haunt of Prime Grill—the stuffy Madison Avenue kosher steakhouse where he could regularly be spotted meeting clients—if it weren’t for top guns from Goldman Sachs, whose alumni now pack Trump’s cabinet, dining at a table next to him.
“When I think back on starting my career, the last place I thought I would be would be spending a lot of time in Brooklyn,” Kushner said at a real estate conference in 2014. But like many other New York property blue bloods, he followed the scent of a good deal to the borough, where his family firm, Kushner Companies, has significant holdings.
Kushner may have considered Washington, D.C. beyond even the last place he would end up, but here he is. And no matter how punishing his White House schedule, a guy’s gotta eat.
The 36-year old’s epicurean predilections have taken him to at least half-a-dozen new dining rooms in the capital. Replacing Prime Grill as his go-to eatery may be no easy feat, though it does appear that Italian cuisine is a perennial favorite: Kushner was spotted on a Sunday afternoon picking up pies at the &Pizza chain in Dupont Circle, not far from the six-bedroom Kalorama manse where he lives with Ivanka and their three children.
But Kushner has managed to slot in some serious eateries into his schedule, too. He broke bread with House Speaker Paul Ryan last week at the Capitol Hill Club, the private social hub for Republicans, a group that Kushner, raised in a family that’s among New Jersey’s most generous Democratic donors, has only recently become associated with.
Kushner was also seen at dinner with Ivanka at RPM Italian, the restaurant part-owned by 2004 “Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic. According to the Washington Post, the couple declined the staff’s attempt to comp the meal -– one diner present told the paper that Kushner said, “I am not allowed to accept this, I’m a government employee.”
Others have spotted Kushner popping deviled eggs at the Foggy Bottom bar Founding Farmers, and elsewhere eating haute-Italian offerings with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Massimo Fabbri’s Tosca Ristorante. Lisa Jackson, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, joined Cook and Kushner for the meal.
But none of these Kushner sightings have caught as much public attention as his appearance with Ivanka Trump at the Alfalfa Club, the exclusive society founded in 1913 to celebrate the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Just hours after Trump had issued an executive order banning entry to the U.S. to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, Ivanka, dressed in what could be described as aluminum chic, posed for a photo with her tuxedo-clad husband and posted it on Instagram just after midnight. It caused an uproar on social media, with many comparing Ivanka’s metallic getup to the trauma blankets that are often given out to the refugees her father has attempted to bar from the country.
Kushner was not on camera when Trump signed that order, but he’s been close by for many of the president’s other maneuvers (firing the acting Attorney General for having “betrayed” the Department of Justice, accusing the media of covering up terrorism, claiming his inauguration drew a record number of attendees). And both Jared and Ivanka are being courted by Chinese government officials, who see the couple as the best way to forge a direct relationship with Trump, Bloomberg reported.
A sympathetic source told a Vanity Fair columnist that Kushner had “endured the physical toll of the job,” and in just over a week taken on a “changed” demeanor in his interactions with the president. The source also said that Kushner had become “pale” and lost a significant amount of weight.
There are countless Beltway restaurants that would be more than happy to help him put those lost pounds back on, although most proprietors who spoke with the Times in a recent feature said they were more interested in a visit from Ivanka.
“There seems to be maybe a little more of a groundedness with her,” Joseph Cerione of the Blue Duck Tavern told the newspaper. Gus DiMillo of the Cajun food company Acadiana said he “can’t see [Kushner] sitting down and having a bowl of gumbo. I’m more curious about Ivanka.”