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This past Sunday I flew with my brother JJ my parents from Cleveland to NYC. JJs fiance’s side of the family flew in from Fort Lauderdale. Chabad tradition is to pray by the gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, before officially getting engaged. Of course it was bound to happen that at least one of the flights would be delayed and indeed their Delta flight to JFK was delayed by several hours.
More on food, food, and more food after the jump…
American has been flying for decades from Cleveland to LaGuardia, but that service ended on 03/30, so this was our last Cleveland to LaGuardia flight.
While we waited we drove into Manhattan and had lunch at Noi Due, where you will find the best kosher dairy food in NYC.
Fried Rissotto Balls in a Mint Pesto sauce. Definitely worth trying for the flavors, but I’ll stick with their excellent Fried Macaroni Balls in a Rosa Rosa sauce in the future.
Mozzarella basket has delicious chunks of fried mozzarella with marinated veggies:
Tri-Color Gnocchi in a basil pesto sauce is very good:
The Ravioli in a Rosa Rosa is outrageously good:
The Peanut Butter Chocolate Torte is the best version of this dessert that I’ve ever had. Simply phenomenal!
Then it was off to Cambria Heights to finalize the engagement, followed by 2 parties in Crown Heights toasting to the newly engaged couple:
Put lots of cinnamon buns together for a cinnabon cake, brilliant!
It’s been several years since I’ve been to Le Marais, so I had to give that old standby a try:
I ordered a Caiparinha, hoping for some magic from the Clubhouse days. Alas, it was a disappointment:
The spicy lamb chili is a must-order. A really awesome top-notch appetizer:
The peppercorn encrusted steak is a great cut of meat, lean and tender. The truth is though that you can buy it yourself from them already spiced for just $14 or so and grill it yourself. You’ll probably find that you can make it better than they do in the restaurant and have one awesome BBQ. The fries have really gone downhill here, they’re bland and lifeless, which is a real shame:
I stayed at the Andaz 5th Avenue in Manhattan, an excellent city hotel. I used a suite upgrade to move into a Splash Suite, a very large room for an NYC hotel. Service at the hotel is very good and the rooms are modern and sleek.
You can scalp a room, try to find a good rate online, or use 12,500 points plus $150 for a room with Hyatt cash and points. With straight points it’s 25,000 points per night, though the cash and points rate qualifies for promotions and suite upgrades. Chase points transfer to Hyatt instantly from cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold.
Splash Suite entryway:
Splash Suite Living Room:
Between the living room and the bedroom is a room with just a giant tub in it:
Splash Suite bedroom:
Off of the tub room is the bathroom:
You can have a combo rain shower and traditional showerhead:
As in all Andaz hotels, the minibar is free:
Diamonds get a $75 breakfast credit that can be used off of their kosher menu, which is sourced from Milk & Honey. It used to be a full $75 credit that can be used anywhere, but now they have an in-house menu with prices that are artificially higher. I guess I can’t complain too much about free kosher food though:
The next morning I ordered from My Most Favorite Foods which led to some billing issues that were sorted out:
In our circles the next couple days are spent with the parents of the groom buying presents of their future daughter-in-law and the parents of the bride buying presents for the future son-in-law. So it was off to Crown Heights and Boro Park to buy new clothes, jewelry, etc.
And along the way, a quick stop at Zislick for a Napolean Cake+Snickers Gelato covered in hardened chocolate and cookie crunch:
For dinner that night the DansDeals corporate expense account treated half a dozen folks from the DansDeals Forums who contributed the most deals to the forums that made their way onto the main DansDeals.com site. We went to Mike’s Bistro and spent several hours having a great time together.
Chef Mike himself stopped by for a while to chat. He’s been on DansDeals himself for credit card and mileage advice and he talked moving to his new location in midtown in a couple months. He’ll start with a slightly expanded dinner menu and eventually be open for lunch as well. I told him that I fully hope to see a short rib sandwich on the lunch menu! Definitely try to chat with him when dining at his restaurant, he’s a real character!
Duck Gnocchi, as usual, is just perfect:
Some of the guys ordered a Black Angus Steak and the off-the-menu Center Cut Steak, both got rave reviews. But I can’t miss ordering one of my favorite entrees from any restaurant in the world, the Short Ribs. (Only the Roasted Beef entree from Asian in Buenos Aires can top it). Mike revealed that the short ribs were actually a complete accident, but it was an accident that truly launched his career as a chef:
Sweet Yam Fritters are great, but it’s really hard to beat the fries at Mike’s which are spiced and fried to sheer perfection:
The hot chocolate fondue is a fun dessert:
And then there’s the chocolate, chocolate, chocolate dessert. I’m a big fan of Mike’s drinks, appetizers, and entrees, but desserts is where there is some room for improvement:
I got around everywhere via uberX. It’s really an incredible service. Never waited more than a few minutes for a car in Manhattan or in Brooklyn and the drivers and cars were great. Plus you get a picture of your driver, his license plate number, and his cell phone number so that you know exactly who you are driving with, and if you leave anything behind you’ll know who to contact.
I thought the prices were very reasonable and they always came in at the very bottom of the fare quotes.
Earlier today I had an Israeli driver, Avner, pick me up from the Andaz to go to Amsterdam Burger Company (another eatery from Chef Mike). He was a great guy and he LOVES working for uber. When I mentioned that some drivers had complained on my site about not getting tips he was just incredulous. He says he takes home $500 profit a day on a 12 hour shift and couldn’t possibly be any happier with uber. He says he’s perfectly fine not getting tips because that’s what he signed up for and it clearly says that tip is already included so cash never has to get exchanged.
I’ve got a fair amount of referral credit 😉 and I’ve checked the fare to Cleveland (about $1,100) for giggles. I asked him if he would really take me to Cleveland if I asked to drive there andhe said he sure would!
We actually ate lunch together at Amsterdam Burger Company and then he took me right onto JFK.
I’ve never had such a stress-free trip to NYC. No rental car hassle, no parking hassle, I could work while being chauffeured around. uber is truly incredible.
Amsterdam Burger’s spicy buffalo nuggets are sweet and spicy, just perfect:
The mushroom and onion burger is very good. Again, no Clubhouse burger or even Milt’s burger, but a very solid burger:
The pulled BBQ Beef sandwich is excellent. Not quite as excellent as the Memphis pulled BBQ beef from LAs Got Kosher, but still, excellent.
I was able to fly both ways on 4.5K Avios awards, but looking at the calendar for future months it’s a sad site now that the LGA flights are gone. Hopefully they’ll at least open up availability on the single remaining Cleveland-JFK flight closer in to the flights. Or better yet, add 1 or 2 more flights between Cleveland and JFK.