Normandie Farms

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10710 Falls Rd, Potomac, Maryland 20854

In Advise and Consent:

“Off on the left of the winding road in the sparkling sunshine there appeared the rambling contours of Normandy Farms set on a little rise among its trees and lawns, and Senator Smith decided it was a good thing they had come to it, for this was a good transition-point in the talk, with things left hanging that might not develop were they pursued consciously now but which might come of themselves later. Parking absolved him of any reply to Senator Anderson’s last comment, and Brig himself broke the mood when he got out by turning back to survey the car with an air of exaggerated awe.”  Page 893

In Real Life:

In Advise and Consent,  the Junior Senator from Iowa, Lafe Smith, picked up his bestie, the junior Senator from Utah, Brigham Anderson and drove him, in his new sports car- to a restaurant in the country, Normandy Farm.  Well, I thought – that has potential.  I quickly looked it up and found a Normandie Farm, in Potomac. A different spelling but the restaurant’s website billed it as a special occasion place since 1931. It even bragged that Elinore Roosevelt was once a regular. I thought it had the ring of a place Allen Drury would send a couple of Senators to for a private lunch and chat.

We – my husband and daughter and I – approached Normandy Farms,  not in a sports car but in our rental car. The hills were rolling – just like they were decades ago when Drury wrote the place into his novel.  And “the rambling contours of Normandy Farm,” suddenly appeared on a rise – just as it had for the Senators. We too had the sun – it was a Saturday and we had a reservation for lunch. The host greeted us and when we quizzed him he told us the original owner – a single mother – went to culinary school in Normandy, France in the early 1930’s. When she came back to America she started looking for a location for a restaurant and she spotted a foreclosure sign on the land where Normandy Farms is today.  She bought the place forty-five minutes later.  All that at the height of the Great Depression – but Marjorie Hendricks and her sister made a go of it for almost three decades. Then, there were some seeming missteps by a couple of other owners for a couple of years. One, I read, created outrage by getting rid of Marjorie’s famous popovers. Then, another man – Cary Prokos – who dined at Normandie Farm as a child – became a chef and took it over as an adult. He’s been there running the place for his own few decades ever since.

The host seated us at the table in front of the fireplace. Within moments we were staring at some giant popovers brought out by a waiter who looked like he was serious about our whole dining experience.  I ate the whole thing. I wasn’t going to – but I kept telling myself it was mostly air, after all.  We ordered some salads. I took a walk around to look for the spot where Drury placed the Senators – at a table outside. It was still winter so the outside patio hadn’t opened yet. I went back to our table. Our salads had arrived. And just like Senator Lafe Smith and Senator Brigham Anderson, we enjoyed a fine lunch at Normandie Farm.

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