Tenured chef and sommelier Troy Knapp is about to embark on a voyage unlike any other in his hospitality career.
The former food and beverage director at both Michelin-rated Blue Duck Tavern and D.C.’s glitzy Conrad hotel takes his fine-dining skills to the water with a private boating experience he’s calling Cru Classé. Elegant, all-day offerings at sea include French wines, Champagnes, surf-and-turf specials, and delicate soufflés for brunch.
Reservations are now accepted for maiden voyages from the Wharf’s Market Pier starting on Friday, March 18 (101 Market Square SW). Its seafaring debut coincides with peak bloom of cherry blossoms along the Potomac basin.
Knapp happens to be a certified captain on a 47-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469, and the dark days of the pandemic pushed him to depart from landlocked dining rooms and turn his prized European possession into a stylish, alfresco restaurant of sorts. The sleek sailboat’s open cockpit accommodates up to six at a time.
“Getting on a boat is an absolute escape,” Knapp tells Eater. “I’m hoping to give people an unforgettable experience. Those who want serenity and peace, but also memorable bites and sips to go along with it.”
By land, Knapp hosts 90-minute “dock-and-sip” receptions, in which the boat stays put at its Market Pier slip. The anchored option, starting at $50 per person, includes a curated list of wines and bubbly like French sancerre, Provence rosé, and prosecco. (Knapp only has one rule: “No red wines on board. A spill would stain the boat,” he says.) A “farm” menu option ($29) includes towering displays of charcuterie and cheeses, while a “sea” menu ($49) features chilled, grilled, and raw selections from the Chesapeake Bay. Patrons can sample both for $69.
Seafood selections include Virginia and Maryland oysters on the half shell, smoked trout dip, scallop crudo with cherry blossom shoyu, and citrus-grilled shrimp served with a barrel-aged Worcestershire aioli.
Chartered cruises throughout the day last two to four hours and start at $324 per person. Add-ons like a “Viking-style” brunch include his spin on Danish pancakes known as aebleskiver. His miniature soufflés are made with lemon chiffon cream and topped with blueberries, basil, and toasted almonds.
Knapp will also offer pricier, multi-day excursions out to the Chesapeake Bay for parties up to six.
As the name implies, he envisions Cru Classé as a classy counterpart to other Potomac booze cruises and paddle boats filled with buckets of sponsored seltzer brands.
“I’m not interested in hosting raucous boat parties,” Knapp says. “This experience will target people who love dining out in D.C. and are looking for something new and different.”