Larry Shaughnessy is CNN's Pentagon Producer
WASHINGTON (CNN) - France's reputation for fine cuisine is well established. So when one of France's top government officials came to visit Washington, you'd think he'd be treated to dinner at one of Washington's most trendy, elite restaurants - the kind that get mentioned on food blogs or in glossy magazines.
Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took his counterpart, the French Minister of Defense, Alain Juppe, to Gadsby's, an Arlington, Va tavern that serves down-to-earth fare like meatloaf and pork chops.
When Gates mentioned the dinner to reporters Tuesday, it wasn't Gadsby's food he mentioned; it was the restaurant's more than 225 years of history.
"Last evening, I had the pleasure of hosting Minister Juppé along with other French and U.S. officials for dinner at a tavern where Secretary of State John Quincy Adams played host to General Lafayette in 1824. Two centuries later, France remains our strong and valued partner on the global stage."
General Lafayette was one of the French generals who served in the American Continental Army under George Washington during the Revolutionary war. Being treated to dinner at a tavern that once played host to the French hero seemed to delight Minister Juppe.
"I appreciate very much, Mr. Secretary, our wonderful dinner yesterday evening in a very elegant place. And we served prestigious predecessors; I am here after Lafayette. And for me, it's a very great honor."
When we called the restaurant for more details, no one returned our calls.
One thing is clear - the dinner didn't cost a fortune. The most expensive item on Gadsby's dinner menu is Filet Mignon for $30.00. This may be a lot for the average American to pay when they go out to dinner, but considering Gates runs an organization that if it were it's own nation would be one of the 20th largest economies in the world, thirty bucks for a steak is hardly over the top. In fact, BLT Steak, a restaurant just a couple of blocks from the White House charges $42 for a filet, and $312 for a Japanese Kobe Beef strip steak.
And they don't serve meatloaf.
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