By EMILY GEST
Daily News Staff Writer
Her father may be a former President, her mother may be the state's junior
senator, but it was Chelsea Clinton who took New York by storm.
The former first daughter has been seen all over Manhattan in recent weeks
celebrated the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
She dined with pals at Sushi Samba 7, partied at Eugene and danced at Suite
all popular hot spots with those in the know. They're a long way from the Broadway
show "Rent" her parents escorted her to for her 17th birthday in 1997. These days,
they're taking Chelsea to sophisticated restaurants like Brasserie 8 1/2 on W. 57th St.
At Sushi Samba, Clinton, who turns 22 next month, arrived 20 minutes before
and shared saketinis (martinis made with sake) with one of the restaurant's owners.
"She's a very warm, smart person," said Matthew Johnson, a co-owner of
sushi lounge. "She's down to earth. She was very genuine. I didn't expect that."
Clinton and her pals feasted on spicy tuna rolls, yellowtail and ceviche
at a table on
the restaurant's popular enclosed roof deck, which had views of the twin towers.
"Everyone in the restaurant wanted to take a look at Chelsea," said Johnson.
"We get a
lot of celebrities — Kevin Spacey was here the night before, but she got the most notice."
Keeping to the President and senator's edict of protecting their daughter's
Clinton spokeswoman Julia Payne declined to answer any questions about Chelsea.
Friends and acquaintances also are unwilling to speak about her — or chose their words very carefully.
"I don't want to talk about her and turn her into the next Paris Hilton,"
one acquaintance said,
referring to one of two Hilton heiresses who are well-known party girls.
Despite tabloid photos of Clinton appearing to be pixilated, friends dismiss the notion that Clinton is a tippler.
"She's the cleanest, straightest arrow," said one source. "She's a very
thoughtful person who clearly went
to Sidwell and Stanford," the source said, referring to Chelsea's elite high school and college.
One former Clinton aide who has in the past accompanied the former President
to Oxford — where
Chelsea's now studying — scoffed at the tabloid reports but didn't outright dispute them.
"Oh, that's just ridiculous. Everybody drinks over there. ... Have you
ever been to
Oxford? There's more pubs than restaurants," said the former aide.
Last fall, Clinton was subjected to ridicule in the tabloids when, in an
article published in
Talk magazine, she described herself as feeling alienated and having a difficult time
coping with criticism of America's war on terrorism.
Now vacationing in Las Brisas, Mexico, with her parents, Chelsea is expected
to Oxford in time for the next term, which begins Jan. 14.
When she wasn't attending classes last term, Clinton toured Europe and
her father when he was traveling. They attended the recent Milan fashion shows
and hung out with U2's Bono.
A Young Man
Her frequent companion is Oxford schoolmate Ian Klaus who hails from
Belvedere, Calif., and, like her father, is a Rhodes scholar. British tabloids have
spotted Clinton and Klaus smooching at a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland, and socializing
at a Red Cross charity ball in London.
His family refuses even to acknowledge the relationship.
"I really can't talk to you. Thank you very much for calling. Goodbye,"
Patricia, said when reached at the family's home.
Klaus is a gifted soccer player and scholar who graduated from Washington
in St. Louis, and before that the elite Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts. Before
Oxford, he was granted a fellowship to study World War I solider-poets at the
Imperial War Museum in London.