New England experienced one of the worst blizzards in the last few years last weekend. Naturally, that coincided with my first trip to New York City since I was in high school.
I was supposed to fly out midday Friday the 7th, but Thursday morning I looked at the forecasts for both Ottawa and Laguardia and came to the conclusion that the chances of my flight not being significantly delayed or cancelled were extremely low. So, I called Air Canada and explored my options. I settled on the direct flight out Thursday afternoon and paid the change fee. Naturally, within an hour Air Canada posted a travel alert and instituted IROPS for people traveling Friday. (I wouldn’t have had to pay a change fee under IROPS, so I’m going to see if I can get a refund.)
Finishing up heat I was working on, I headed home at lunch, did a quick load of laundry, threw things in my suitcase and headed to the airport. I cleared customs in good time and waited at the gate for my flight.
While I was waiting, I bumped into some fields interviewers from Statistics Canada conducting an exit survey for foreign travelers. Being a Canadian, I wasn’t in-scope for the survey, so I chatted with them for a bit about the survey in general. I’ve worked for Statistics Canada for several years, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to respond to one of our surveys (except the Census, of course) and I wasn’t eligible. Figures!
The flight on Ottawa to Laguardia was just over an hour. I found myself in seat 3F, seated next to a fairly hardcore business traveller who travels about four or five months solid and then about once a month for the rest of the year. The flight was uneventful (the best type of flight), with the approach to LGA taking us down the Hudson River and past the Statue of Liberty. My seat mate and I chatted about the effect the incoming weather was going to have on the tradeshow she was going to and how when you travel as often as she did that views like the Statue of Liberty no longer make you go “wow… look at that”.
We landed and I made my way to the baggage carousel to retrieve it. Happily, mine was one of the first off the plane, so I was able to catch the next NYC Airporter shuttle to Grand Central Station, which is a couple of blocks away from the Westin Grand Central. I texted my friend, Rob, who is in NYC on business for three weeks to let him know I was en route. He met me at the dropoff point and I checked in at the Westin and we headed to Sparks Steak House on East 46th Street for dinner.
I found out about Sparks Steak House in the New York City Travel Guide app by Lonely Planet. It describes it with the following blurb:
“Get an honest-to-goodness New York steakhouse experience at this classic joint, a former mob hangout that’s been around for nearly 50 years and still packs ’em in for a juicy carnivorous feed.”
That description doesn’t do Sparks justice. We entered the restaurant and found ourselves in something straight out of the Godfather. The walls were covered in paintings, except where they were covered in bottles. We were quickly seated and given menus the size of newspapers. Seriously. The front page had the food menu, while the remaining three pages had the wine list. Oh, and there a was a note at the bottom that they had a list of wines in their wine library available upon request. We actually settled on choosing beers from their extensive list of beers. I went with a Brooklyn Lager, which turned out to be quite good.
I chose the filet mignon for the main course and Rob went with a seafood choice. My steak was amazing. Absolutely amazing. It was a very generous portion that was perfectly cooked. While I had a steak knife, I’m fairly certain that I could have used my butter knife with no problems. Dessert, while very tempting, wasn’t a possibility because I was full.
It wasn’t a cheap meal, but it was definitely worth it! If you have a chance to dine there, do so!
After a bit more wandering around, we made our ways to our respective hotels. Thus endeth Day One.
Next time: Times Square, Nemo, and chocolate.