Tuesday, April 21st 2009, 4:00 AM
Recession-conscious New Yorkers are saving money by packing their lunches, but some of their representatives in Congress are packing it in everywhere from posh bistros to Dunkin' Donuts.
Local lawmakers used campaign cash as a veritable stimulus package for the restaurant industry during the first three months of the year, new federal fund-raising records show.
Rangel, the dean of the Empire State's congressional delegation, spent $3,900 on catering at Washington's first-class Phoenix Park Hotel. He also dropped $1,128.21 at swanky Capitol Hill restaurant Bistro Bis, the sort of place where a bar burger comes in at around $16 - and a bottle of wine can go for $300.
Rangel spent thousands on grub closer to home, too, handing over $3,000 for catering at Rainbow by Cipriani and hundreds more at Harlem establishments Spoonbread and A Taste of Seafood.
"I don't spend $133 a day [on food] - but I'm not one of the most powerful men in the House of Representatives," the public affairs professor added.
While Rangel may have been one of the bigger spenders, some of his colleagues joined him in dishing out for catered fund-raisers and working lunches:
He dropped $278.54 for an event at Steak Frites downtown, and $391.14 on Fresh Direct grocery deliveries.
- Hunan Balcony in the Bronx gobbled up $540 from Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx, Rockland).
She also shelled out $580 at Capitol Hill's Johnny's Half Shell, previously noted as one of Gourmet magazine's best restaurants.