Yet Another New York Weekend Trip

By now, I think most people know that I like to go to New York City; averaging around 2 trips per year, I think over the course of the past two years I’ve been around 7 times.  I’ve developed a bit of a habit in what I do there, but I still find new things to see or experience.  However, since I’ve done plenty of the same things over and over again, I don’t see much of a point about writing in my usual detailed manner, so I’m going to try to do this in a shorter format.  It’s a bit of an experiment for me.

The Hotel: W New York
There are actually four W Hotels now in New York City.  My intent was to try the W New York Downtown, however, that plan fell through when they wanted nearly $300/night.  While not unexpected for a hotel in NYC, there was a very decent rate of $186/night at the original W New York on Lexington Ave.  I stayed here last year on a mistake rate (and I mean my mistake, not theirs; I somehow booked a $300/night room without actually remembering doing it) and wasn’t the most thrilled.  However, with the W being one of the cheaper Starwood options that weekend I decided that I would give them another chance.  Besides it meant not having to stay in New Jersey.

I reserved a Cozy Room online, which is what I had selected last May as well.  Upon receiving my confirmation email that was an offer to upgrade to a Spectacular Room for only $10/night extra (You could also upgrade to a Fantastic Suite for only $95/more as well).  Considering that last time was a fail in terms of upgrades or even just in terms of having a view out of the window, I jumped on the offer.  Since SPG Gold upgrades are inconsistent I figured it was a small price to pay to ensure I got a good room; plus they were wanting almost $250/night for a Spectacular Room anyways, so that in itself made it a steal.

Upon arriving, I was immediately checked in by one of the agents and given the key to my room.  I was given a room on the 12th floor that faced out to Lexington Ave.  The room although being two sizes larger than the Cozy Room, only felt marginally larger, however it is noticeable due to the fact that there is room at the end of the bed for you to put a suitcase out and walk past.  I had the Queen bed version of this room, which probably helped; the King Bed version I assume would fee just as cramped as a Cozy Room.

W New York – Spectacular Queen

W New York – Work Area

W New York – Bathroom

W New York – View (Waldorf Astoria Across The Street)

I fell back on some tried and true places on this trip.  On Saturday I found myself at Madison Restaurant, which is a diner at the corner of 53rd and 1st.  It’s standard diner fare, but sometimes that is what you need after a night of drinking; plus it’s a short walk from the W.

On Friday night a tried a gastropub near the corner of 53rd and 2nd called Session House.  I got here while the after work crowds were still strong which meant not a spot at the bar nor any tables.  I ultimately headed to the upstairs bar to get a drink and found myself a stool to sit on in the corner for a bit.  It seemed very anti-social of me, but by the time I was done with that beer (which wasn’t long), I headed back downstairs and found myself an empty table.  Sure it was for four people, but there still wasn’t any bar spots open yet, so I decided to just roll with it.  I ordered a few more Smutty Nose IPAs and the Irish Steak & Guinness Pie.  The meal was pretty decent, but if I find myself here next time I’m going to try something else.  I stayed for a good while, kicking back and eventually moving over the bar so I wouldn’t be a table hog for a group that actually needed it.  Overall, I found the atmosphere to be great and the bartenders and waitstaff were on top of it making sure I was taken care of.  There’s several other bars in the neighborhood, but as I walked back to the hotel I noticed how many had decent sized lines.  Why wait in a line when you can have a good beer in a more relaxed environment.  The only warning I offer? It can get rather loud from all the patrons in here, but that’s to be expected I feel.

Cornerstone Café in the East Village is a favorite breakfast place of mine in NYC.  I first wound up here several trips ago due to an hour and 45 minute wait at the Clinton Street Bakery, which is insanely popular.  Located just a few blocks away, this place has some very delicious breakfast options and I have never experienced a wait.  I’ve had the pancakes a few times and some of the other options, but this time went for an Eggs Benedict with a side cup of fruit.  The Eggs Benedict were almost perfect and were served with some awesome breakfast potatoes.  Not overly greasy, I’m not even sure if they fried them up or did something else.  They are also very good about refilling your cup of coffee and I swear I had probably 10 cups of coffee as I sat there that morning.  Price is also always very decent, but the one thing that irks me is the cash only policy.  I have to make sure that I hit up an ATM on my way down there to grab some cash.

Brickyard Gastropub on 9th between 52nd and 53rd was my second attempt at gastropub discovery on that weekend.  It had generally good reviews and it looked like it had a good assortment of craft beers on tap.  As expected it was busy when I walked in, but there were a few empty spots at the bar.  The one bartender though ignored me for the first 5 minutes and then when he finally asked for my order and I told it to him, he must not have heard me because a few minutes later he comes back asking me what I wanted again.  I will say, they do have a very good selection and the food menu looked good, but that bartender soured me a bit.  After two beers I walked outside and hailed a cab so I could get down to a theater for the Tribeca Film Festival.  I’d try it again, but if I saw that same bartender, I’d probably just turn around.

Halal Guys food cart on 53rd and 6th.  Need I say anymore?  Deliciously awesome food from a cart that often forms a long line and is perfect after you’ve been out drinking (or not)  And it’s only $6 for an epic quantity of food.  You can’t go wrong.

Bareburger on LaGuardia Place near Washington Square Park and NYU.  This place is one of my favorite burger places on the planet.  Even though it was a little chilly outside on Saturday (~55F), I sat out on the patio since it was a beautiful day and enjoyed a Country Bacon Burger with bison meat, fries and a pint of Wolavers Organic IPA.  The only way it would have been more perfect would have been just the temperature outside.

Bareburger Patio – Not A Bad Place To Sit

Tribeca Film Festival
Since my trip coincided with the opening weekend of the Tribeca Film Festival I figured that I would at least see one film while I was there.  I should have bought a ticket weeks prior after I secured my hotel and plane since I would have had early access due to my American Express card.  Unfortunately, I didn’t do that and wound up not being able to get a ticket for some of the films that I was interested in.  I could have done a Rush Ticket (wait in line and hope you get in), but in most cases I just couldn’t get to the required theaters in time.  On that note, I found myself standing in line for a late night showing of a horror film called Frankenstein’s Army.  A film done in the found footage style (think Cloverfield), it essentially results in a Soviet reconnaissance team at the end of World War II fighting off an army of undead steampunk Nazis in a seemingly abandoned village.  It was very strange and I noticed several people leave halfway during the movie.  I won’t go into the details about the film, but if you are curious enough, you can Google it.

Outside The Theater

The Flights 
Since I had booked a few weeks out, getting a 25,000 mile award ticket wasn’t much of a hassle.  In order to change things up a bit, I decided to fly into JFK Airport for a change, especially with Terminal 3 about to disappear when Delta’s Terminal 4 expansion opens at the end of May.  Plus, it gave me an option to have a domestic segment on an internationally configured 767.  It was supposed to be one of the reconfigured 767-300s with the new lie-flat seats (I got to experience that on my CDG-CVG flight in December), but as I boarded the aircraft I found that the boarding pass scanner spit out a new seat assignment and that given my new seat of 2F which meant that we had been swapped out for a 767 that had not yet got the refurbishment and would mean the old recliner style BusinessElite seat.  Should I complain? Not really.  After all I had been flying on a coach award ticket and had received an upgrade so it’s not like I paid for my seat.  Some people however were very unhappy with the downgrade of equipment and were very vocal.  For some it was that they really wanted that lie-flat seat and others, well their traveling partners got bumped to coach.  That would suck, especially if they had paid for a First or Business fare.  I’m not going to complain however, I was able to kick my feet up, enjoy my first class meal and relax for the short two hour flight.

Delta Air Lines 767-300 – Almost Ready To Board For NYC

BusinessElite Leg Room

JFK Terminal 3 – The Old Pan Am Worldport Will Soon Be No More

On the way back, I took the usual tactic of flying our of LaGuardia.  Using the Sky Priority line at security and having been selected for TSA Pre-Check I found myself airside no more than 3 minutes after stepping out of my cab.  I’ve got through quickly before at LaGuardia, but damn, I think I broke a record or something.  I can’t even get through my local airport in Panama City that quickly when there is no one in line!

Since I left a bit earlier than usual for my 6PM flight (I was anticipating potential delays due to potential sequestration actions that were scheduled to start that weekend), I waited out my time in the Terminal D Sky Club.  I thought about venturing over the Terminal C to see the Delta expansion over there, but having a drink and surfing the web felt like a better idea.  Sometimes laziness is a good thing.

The meal on the flight was something that I had not encountered before on Delta: Chicken Satay.  Essentially three chicken skewers over a bed of cold noodles and a peanut-ginger sauce on the side.  It won points for being different, but some of the other cold offerings are a little bit better.  Still beat out the club sandwich that was the other choice for this flight.  On another note, I wound up sitting next to actor Paul Rudd in First Class.  That pretty much beat sitting behind some random basic cable show actor last year on a flight into Philadelphia.

Delta Air Lines First Class Dinner – Chicken Satay

Other Highlights

Walking The High Line

Walking Down 4th Street In The West Village

One World Trade Center – Almost To The Top

All Lit Up – The Hemsley Building

Riding A Bike Around Central Park

Relaxing After My Bike Ride Through Central Park

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