VIP Access to New York’s Best Restaurants Michelin three-star Daniel restaurant, and Michelin-starred Peter Luger Steak House
As a native New Yorker and former New England resident, I find little to tantalize me on a fall Canada/New England cruise. That is, until now. Crystal Cruises just unveiled two-dozen new shore-side Crystal Adventures on five Crystal Serenity voyages this fall. Of the 24 newbies, it is entry into Brooklyn’s Michelin-starred Peter Luger Steak House, and the Michelin three-star (highest award) Daniel restaurant, which sent my once-blasé fall cruise spirits soaring.
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How much do I love Peter Luger and Daniel? Let me count the ways. Then again, maybe not. It would take too long. If you are a New Yorker, you already know that these two restaurants - polar opposites - are imbedded in Big Apple hearts – and stomachs. They are dining icons, luring not only locals, but visitors from far-flung corners of the globe.
If you hail from another American region, are contemplating a fall foliage East Coast cruise and love food, look no further. I’ll get to other reasons why Crystal Serenity is the way to go for this cruising region and season, but let’s begin with the culinary outings. These restaurants are not only exceptional, they’re exceptionally hard to get into, making entry via Crystal most appealing, indeed.
Peter Luger Steak House has been wowing diners since 1887. There really was a Peter Luger; he owned the place, while his nephew Carl handled the kitchen in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Once they built the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, Manhattan became more accessible and the rest is history.
Crystal guests will get to order off the regular Brooklyn menu. What to eat? A giant USDA Prime (the best; less than 2% of all graded cattle) steak. It’s dry-aged in the restaurant’s own aging box. Choose the porterhouse, the primary cut sold. There’s also a rib steak, but trust me. It’s the porterhouse that steals the show. The char, the juice. (I think I may be drooling over my copy.)
The menu also features lamb chops, filet of sole and grilled salmon. But really, it’s all about the beef. Begin with sliced tomatoes and onions drizzled with “Luger’s Own sauce.” And since it’s calories-be-damned time, tuck into creamed spinach and Luger’s German fried potatoes. Order cheesecake with homemade “schlag” (thickly whipped cream) or the Luger’s special “Holy Cow” hot-fudge sundae. This will be one of the best meals of your life.
Dinner at Daniel -- the signature restaurant of world-famous chef Daniel Boulud -- will also be one of life’s greatest culinary experiences. Guests who sign up for this limited availability Boutique Adventure are in for a thrilling experience. They won’t be seated in the dining room (which, by the way, is lovely). Rather, they’ll have the best seats in the house; a birds-eye view of the kitchen action dining in the glass-enclosed Skybox above the main dining room. And it isn’t, say, a three-course meal; it’s an eight-course modern French tasting menu extravaganza.
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Daniel is located in Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side. It’s an elegant restaurant, yet not ostentatious or pretentious. The staff loves people who love food. Boulud hails from Lyon, France (renowned for its gastronomy) and was raised on his family farm. As he shot to culinary stardom, he opened other restaurants from Singapore and London to Los Vegas. But he is often found behind the beloved stove at his iconic New York establishment.
Boulud’s food is intricate, yet not fussy. His technique and execution are flawless. And yet despite the precision of dishes like grilled Maine halibut with braised romaine lettuce and caramelized red onions, or savory stuffed Dover sole with English pea puree, Daniel’s cuisine has soul. You can taste every ingredient in every dish, harmonizing into something bigger, even, magical.
Of course, if you are going to eat like this, you need to work it off. Luckily these Crystal Cruise sails offer many turbo-charged shore activities, including a 5k run along the carriage roads of Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, an urban hike through quintessential Brooklyn (the borough is so trendy these days, it's become an international brand) and a zip-line over Saint John’s Reversing Falls.
What really sets these fall Crystal Cruises apart is that they are all about highlighting the region’s historic traditions and modern culture. Check out these other appealing activities offered: A reflective tour of New York City’s 9/11 Memorial and Museum, personally guided by a survivor, rescue worker, volunteer or other veteran of the 2001 attacks. Or, on a lighter note, a Crystal nighttime adventure highlighting New York’s goose-bump-inducing sites, like the illuminated skyline from beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, the 86th floor of the Empire State Building and the heart of Times Square.
The Canada/New England Crystal Cruises sail in September and October 2014 and vary from seven-to-10 days. (888-799-4625; crystalcruises.com)