I am not a big fan of dining out but when I do decide to visit a food establishment, I want to be treated like a human being and not like a number. The Cracker Barrel Restaurant chain had this customer relations thing down to a science and I used to frequent these restaurants a lot in years gone by. Every Cracker Barrel also had a big fireplace replete with a bearskin rug, which I absolutely loved, but unfortunately the management of Cracker Barrel has a policy prohibiting customers from taking naked selfies on their bearskin rug. Suffice it to say, I am not allowed to frequent Cracker Barrel anymore.
That being said, this past Sunday my beloved Grace (aka: "she who must be obeyed") and I enjoyed a late breakfast at the Belle Harbor Steak House on Beach 116th Street. The staff was very accommodating and friendly and the food—terrific. We knew this restaurant was firing on all cylinders as the second we walked through the door, the host greeted us with a sincere smile and friendly, welcoming banter making the two of us feel as if we were regular and valued patrons - you know, human!
Prior to our seating (we opted for a booth) the bus staff had meticulously cleared, cleaned and set our table and as we settled into our seats, a waitress appeared with a great big smile along with our menus and we were on our way to an extremely enjoyable breakfast. As we were eating, the chef also stopped by our table to say hello and inquire if all was well—it was.
Breakfast was great, service was terrific and the bill, more than reasonable. As we were leaving, I told Grace that I had thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast experience and we should do it again soon. Without missing a beat, "she who must be obeyed" replied that since the restaurant did not have a bearskin rug, the odds were pretty much in my favor that they would allow me to return.
It was still early in the afternoon and as we moseyed on down Beach Channel Drive I remarked to my beloved, "Why don't we jump on the ferry and take a ride to Manhattan? We can grab a drink and then enjoy a leisurely ferry ride back to Rockaway." Grace looked at me as if I had two heads. "You hate Manhattan and you constantly refuse to go into the city for anything with me and now you want to take the ferry over to Wall Street?" I told Grace that I know she has been wanting to ride the Rockaway ferry for some time now and that if it makes her happy, yes, I was willing to accompany her to Manhattan. Grace was so giddy with anticipation that she sprung for the $11 it cost for the round-trip ducats. (Yeah, I know, I'm a cheap date but hey, I paid for breakfast!)
The day was overcast with intermittent showers, but after we boarded we still went to the open upper deck where we found two seats facing starboard or the Brooklyn side of our journey over to Pier 11. The rain held off and the 45-minute journey through Jamaica Bay, under the Marine Parkway Bridge, out the Rockaway Inlet into the Lower Bay and then under the Verrazano Bridge, through the Narrows into the Upper Bay to Wall Street was, for lack of a better word, delightful.
After disembarking at the Pier 11 ferry landing, Grace asked if I wanted to walk up to the Seaport District for a drink. Now, this is where I knew things would get dicey. I said absolutely not, as I had no intention of visiting Manhattan and suggested we grab our drinks from the Ferry Cafe on the landing instead. Shooting me a look that would straighten out your curly fries, Grace stated, "But you are in Manhattan!"
I calmly walked over the edge of the landing and, looking down, pointed out that we were actually above the water of New York Harbor and not on Manhattan Island proper. I sprang for a Diet Pepsi for me and a bottled water for my beloved and then proceeded to Gate A for our return trip to Rockaway. We were lucky enough to grab the same two seats on the return trip, which afforded us a view of the sights we missed on the way in. As far as I was concerned, it was a lovely day spent together but I do appreciate the fact that "she who must be obeyed" is also possessed with a sense of humor. Her only remark to me on the return trip was "There is something seriously wrong with you!"
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