SFO777 The First Class Travel Blog

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Weekend in New York City

Weekend in New York City

December 2014

Mrs. SFO and I are off this weekend to New York for some theater, good food, sightseeing and little holiday shopping.  As I'm only three AA flights away from re-qualifying for American Executive Platinum and with the garbage airline that American has become in the past few months, I'm now booking based on convenience and price.  Delta has a perfectly timed Denver-JFK nonstop and a bargain at only $265 one way in First.

Delta 1075
December 4, 2014

Not as roomy as American's 737-800, but three hours nonstop beats six hours on a connection.

A nice touch as Delta provides a mini-bottle of Dasani for each First Class passenger at boarding.

Once in the air, quick service.

Although a puny rag regment towel just like AA.

At least Delta still uses a table cloth unlike American which dumped table cloths after the September 1st cut-backs.

Lunch today was a choice of cheeseburger or Mediterranean chicken salad.  Far more substantial than current American lunches.  Although the chicken was bland, at least it was edible unlike most current AA meals.

We arrived 20 minutes early at Terminal 2 and met our Dial 7 driver 10 minutes after we deplaned.

With crazy New York hotel prices for the first official Christmas shopping weekend, I opted not to pay $1,500 a night at the Peninsula or Four Seasons, and went with the all suite London NYC.  The hotel is conveniently located for theater and shopping on W. 54th between 5th and 6th.

Our spacious one bedroom suite.  Quite comfortable but a little spartan without the luxurious trappings of the Pen or Four Seasons.  

After we settled in, we headed down to the bar for a drink before dinner.

Gordon Ramsay's Maze.  Not nearly the atmosphere of the original Maze at the Marriott on Grosvenor Square.

And the view next morning from our suite.

Back to our room for a bit and then out for our 8:30P reservation at Nobu, one of Mrs. SFO favorites.  This is our fourth Nobu of the year and Mrs. SFO is determined to visit as many Nobu restaurants around the world as possible.

Great location on 57th with bar downstairs and restaurant upstairs.

Our usual starter of seared ahi with Matsuhisa dressing, which Mrs. SFO has perfected at home.

Amazing crispy rice with sea bass.

And a fabulous miso cod in lettuce cups.

Everyone on their cell phones.  Date night is now just the four of us. LOL.

Impressive mult-tasking... cell phone in one hand, chop sticks in the other.

The sensational lobster tempura.

Wonderful cauliflower with jalapeno dressing.

And amazing salmon.

Although I was stuffed, Mrs. SFO insisted on desert including the delicious Mochi ice cream.

SFO777 Resto Rating: 8.4
• Food: 9
• Wine List: 8
• Ambiance: 8
• Service: 8.5
• Value: 8.5


On the agenda today was a visit to the new 9/11 Memorial Museum at the site of the twin World Trade Center towers.   We booked ticket earlier this morning with the assistance of a great concierge Raphael.  Tickets are issued on a timed entrance basis and we were booked for 12:00 noon.  Uber was our friend today as we had three amazing drivers.  Five minutes after we requested it, our Black Car and driver Jamel pulled up to the hotel... just as Kevin Spacey and entourage hopped into their car.  Thirty minutes later we were at Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Even with timed tickets, we had to wait about 40 minutes in a snake queue before entering.

Once inside, what a wonderful and moving experience that covers every aspect of that day...  Amazing photos, video and audio recordings, pieces of the twin towers, artifacts and a stirring tribute to those that lost their lives that day.  The sheer volume is simply overwhelming to see and appreciate in one visit.   We were there for two hours and only scratched the surface.  I recommend the audio guide which is narrated by Robert DeNiro.  Not to be missed is the Historical Exhibition which presents a timeline of the day and the aftermath.   

It was nearly 3PM by the time we left the museum and we were starving.  Seven minutes later we were in our next Uber and driver Sam for the 15 minute drive to Otto Enoteca Pizzeria near Washington Square.  Great atmosphere, excellent wine and good pizza.  


Our third Uber of the day took only 3 minutes to arrive, and we were at 6th and 50th about 20 minutes later.

Mrs. SFO requested a pic with the Tonight Show sign in the background.  

And down the street to the always impressive Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which officially lit up the night before.

And more of the beautiful Christmas lights.

And our short walk back up to 54th and our hotel.

At around 7:15P we headed out with umbrellas into a rainy night for the 5 block walk down to 49th Street. 

To Mrs. SFO's pick for this trip, the hilarious Book of Mormon.

And then up to 7th and 55th for some authentic New York corned beef.   The unofficial Carnegie Deli greeter who was full of great one liners.

We split the $17.99 Corned Beef sandwich.  Can anyone actually eat an entire sandwich on their own??

Oh yeah!!


And now the real reason to come to New York... every husband's worst nightmare.  Nothing much scarier than a shopaholic wife unleashed on Fifth Avenue.   

First stop was Bergdorff-Goodman where Mrs. SFO could have spent all day.

After just over an hour, we fought off the crowds for a taxi to take us to Columbus Circle and the Trump International Hotel for lunch at Jean-Georges' Nougatine.   Lots of pic below.  
After lunch, we walked along 59th and Central Park back to Fifth and then Madison.

And into Cartier where I merficully escaped with only a sales rep's business card and couple of wish list items.   

Then to Madison.

And Wolford.  How much damage can one do here?

Then a stop to check out the Four Seasons.  Glad we didn't stay there.   Crap location east of Madison, lots of kiddies screaming in the lobby bar.

And back to Fifth.

And finally to Saks fighting pedestrian and unbrella gridlock.

And finally the 5 block walk back the hotel.


After our wonderful meal a couple months ago at Jean-Georges' Nougatine in Shanghai, we wanted more and made lunch at his New York Nougatine a priority stop this weekend.  The New York Nougatine and Jean-Georges are both located in the Trump International Hotel on Central Park West at Columbus Circle.

We arrived 25 minutes early and decided to wait at the bar for a primo table to open.  The Ginger Margarita is a wow!

Corner table 59.  

Mrs. SFO started with the fabulous Shrimp Salad with avocado, tomato and champagne vinaigrette dressing.

While I went with the amazing Fried Calamari with basil salt and Citrus-chili dip.

Mrs. SFO pointed these out.  

Her main was the wonderful SaUteed sea bass with carmelized cauliflower, poppyseed-buttermilk vinaigrette.

And the flip side.

While I enjoyed the amazing Veal Milanese a la Jean-Georges, with parmesan, pecans, escarole and mint.

For dessert, we both had the incredible Jean-Georges Chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream.


What an incredible meal and a bargain at the prix fixe lunch price of only $38 per person.

SFO777 Resto Rating: 9.3
• Food: 9.5
• Wine List: 9.5
• Ambiance: 8.5
• Service: 9.5
• Value: 9.5


The sun finally came out on a beautiful but chilly 32 degree Sunday morning. 

With a 12:20P departure from Laguardia, we headed down to the lobby around 10:25A.  Our Uber driver showed up 3 minutes after I ordered it.   With light Sunday traffic, we arrived at Laguardia just before 11:00A.   Only one other person in front of us in PreCheck and we were in the Admirals Club 7 minutes later. 

New York Laguardia - Chicago O'Hare
American 331
December 7, 2014

We arrived at the gate just as the GA starting boarding the First Class cabin.    The annoying and obliviously loud moron in 5E.   A Bose with music on loud moment for sure. 

American's 40" pitch in F means the most narrow body legroom of any non-transcon US domestic plane.   Unfortunately, the new USdbaAA is going to fix that and reduce legroom to squeeze in more & seats.  

Since September 1st, new American management drastically cut back the quality of meals.  In one day, AA went from best US food airline to worst.  Anything other than pasta is largely inedible prison grade mystery meat lathered in goop.   Despite management claiming that they would improve meal quality, nothing has improved.  Nevertheless, Mrs. prefers chicken so I ordered chicken for the Mrs. while I stayed with the safer pasta.    Pathetic "salad" with her chicken.

Yikes.  As expected, it was inedible.  Hard to cut and tasted terrible.

My pasta was marginally better.  We shared some of this to take the edge off our hunger and decided to eat at O-Hare.

At least it was edible in a 7-11 kind of way.

Yeah, that really looks good.

American used to bake cookies on board.  Apparently that cost too much and now that buy in bulk at Costco and reheat them before serving.  Even the flight attendants are embarrassed by the miss.  I mentioned to our flight attendant that I missed the old American.  She didn't miss a beat and replied "so do we".

More bad news today as our power ports weren't functioning.  The good news is that AA gave us two $75 travel vouchers after I complained.

Once in Chicago, we headed for Rick Bayless' Torta Frontera where we shared a delicious Cubana sandwich. 

Then to the Admirals Club for a half hour before our Denver flight.

Chicago O'Hare - Denver
American 125
December 7, 2014

Our Denver flight was a Boeing Sky interior plane with AA's new individual seat back entertainment system.  A nice selection of movies.  But these seats are not very comfortable. 

Nice sunset in the foothills of the Rockies as we landed.

Thanks for coming along on our quick weekend in wonderful New York City.