Sunday, June 29, 2008


Sometimes, it’s the small things in life that really make the human experience satisfying and fun. For me, it’s getting a bubble tea at the end of the day, finding a cheesy bargain or not-so-cheesy bargain at a Queens discount store. Many times it’s engaging conversation, in English or Spanish, at my corner laundromat, but more often, it’s finding something cool in the least likely places.

If you’ve ever been trapped at La Guardia airport, you know that in downtown Flushing, New York, you will find the Sheraton La Guardia East. It’s very Asian inspired in its décor and feeling. For many years, I never even went inside to check things out—a few shops, a bar and a restaurant named Deluge. That’s about it. Finally, this past winter, tired of traipsing to Manhattan on the weekends to pay $12 a drink to seek out good conversation with strangers at piano bars, I opted to finally check out the bar at the Sheraton.

Upon entering the lobby, you’ll find that there is a small bar and lounge area with about four chairs. The lighting is harsh, so it’s not very cozy. The first time I went there, I almost didn’t stay and have a drink until the upstairs bartender told me about Deluge, the larger bar downstairs in the restaurant. As I made my way down the stairs to the lower level for the first time, I was a bit confused because I didn’t see a bar. Upon asking, I was told that it was behind a wall in the back of the restaurant, just off the kitchen.

As I turned the corner, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there it was—a quaint bar with ample seating and little side tables and ambient lighting, which made me want to come in and sit a spell. Fully anticipating the smiling face of a gentle, overly-friendly Chinese woman at the bar, I was surprised to see 5’10”, beautiful, Irish redhead at the helm at the bar. Kate’s her name, and she makes the best drinks in Queens. She is also a great conversationalist and let’s me talk hour after hour, which I just love! I think she finds it entertaining and it helps her pass the time, since the bar is never usually that crowded. Therein lies the justification for why the little things in life make life living. I don’t enjoy crowds and I love quiet. Good drinks, good conversation, and Kate’s sunny disposition, combined with a little bit of Irish fire make a visit to the bar at Deluge worth the while.

Rumor has it that the bar can also be an intriguing place with dramas and indiscretions unfolding daily. Word on the street is that some people who regularly traverse the friendly skies also regularly make the sheets at the Sheraton friendly when they meet their lovers there, so you never know what you might overhear at Deluge.

In addition to the outstanding dramas, so too, is the food at the restaurant outstanding. It’s created and made by a professional chef, who understands fine cuisine, and it’s as good as any restaurant in Manhattan. My new personal fave is an order of beer-battered onion rings that is served with a horseradish dipping sauce that will have you wanting to eat them 24/7 until you finally collapse from cardiac arrest. Also, Kate made me a delicious raspberry mojito, garnished with fresh mint and chocked full of fresh raspberries, which was utterly beautiful and cool like the lady herself.

One of the best things about Flushing Main Street is that there many cultural things to do—shopping, eating, music and karaoke. The hotels are also a third of the price of what it costs to stay in Manhattan. They are also situated right on two main transit lines (the 7 train and the Port Washington line of the Long Island Railroad). From Flushing Main Street, New York’s Penn Station is only a $4.00, 15-minute train ride, and it stops a mere half-block from the Sheraton in an intriguing cultural world that you won’t get outside of San Francisco, Vancouver or New York’s Chinatowns. Whether you live in New York or are just visiting and are looking for a quiet, inexpensive alternative to Manhattan dining and drinking opportunities, visit the lounge at Deluge at the Sheraton La Guardia East. It’s worth the trip to Queens.

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