With the opening of The Fulton, famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten proves he lives up to the lore.
To announce its opening in the Seaport District, the new Fulton restaurant hosted a glamorous, ocean-themed party. A larger-than-life undersea mural made guests look like tiny creatures crawling across the ocean floor. As soon as they rounded the corner, an unobstructed view of the Brooklyn Bridge astounded, and a flurry of delicacies appeared—raspberry-litchi Bellinis, asparagus tempura, towers of macarons. Models wearing scaly sequins and ethereal eye makeup congregated like sirens or muses, but the real legend was acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, milling around in the flesh. All of these elements came together to announce a clear message: This restaurant is a big deal.
The raspberry-litchi Bellini sings with Crémant D’Alsace.
Named for the nearby Fulton Street Fish Market, The Fulton is one of Vongerichten’s 15 ventures in NYC, including the wildly popular Jean-Georges, ABC Kitchen, The Mark, Public Kitchen and JoJo. The Fulton stands apart from its buttoned-up brethren with nautical motifs and a waitstaff dressed in tasteful chambray rather than tuxedos, but its opulence cannot be missed. Designed by Yabu Pushelberg with architect Cass Calder Smith, the bilevel space flows over the entire eastward corner of Pier 17. The restaurant contains more than 100 indoor and outdoor seats, including booths alongside large, river-facing windows that lend the feeling of dining on an ocean liner. The marine aesthetic is consistent throughout, though not cheekily so; it’s as if Pushelberg really wants guests to believe they’re in Atlantis’ haute spot du jour.
Long Island fluke crudo with habanero vinaigrette, Sichuan bud and mint
Sustainable and wild-caught seafood is at the core of the menu, starting with a robust list of crudos, appetizers and raw bar items. My server, Marissa, recommends warm octopus with housemade mozzarella because “it’s simple, but if you’re going to do simple, you’ve got to do it right.” A crispy soft-shell crab comes perfectly assembled on a plate with a vibrant jalapeno-coriander salsa that cuts through the fried breading. The raw bar is lit up in the center of the room like a fine jewelry case for guests to marvel at ruby lobsters and pearly shellfish, along with East and West Coast oysters, littleneck clams and crab lettuce cups.
Chandler Noah and Diego Castaño of En Viu decorated the walls
For the main course, king crab and spring pea risotto are seasoned with dill and lemon zest, and a whole black sea bass comes baked in pastry crust with a choron sauce. Maine lobster gets an unusual springtime treatment with peas, fava beans, a light Gruyere broth and sourdough croutons. Here, we recognize Vongerichten’s elegance and fine dining expertise but also his restraint. But the top dish was the roasted monkfish medallions, packed with the complementary flavors of Calabrian chile, lemon, capers, spinach and crispy potato strings.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Subtle Asian influences weave their way throughout The Fulton’s fare. Vongerichten seems to adhere to Japanese austerity by letting fine cuts of fish stand in their simple beauty, punctuated by spicy condiments. For example, sashimi of yellowfin, ocean trout, kampachi and fluke pops with spicy white ponzu and a bit of wasabi. A habanero vinaigrette, Sichuan bud and mint snazz up Long Island fluke, and Vongerichten added a yuzu mustard sauce to the traditional NYC staple of tuna tartare. In addition, longevity noodles have already become one of the most popular menu items, starring lobster, pea shoots, green chile and ginger.
Yellowfin tuna tartare with yuzu mustard sauce and shaved fennel.
The position of pastry chef under Jean-George Vongerichten is a prestigious but pressured position, and Joe Murphy lives up to the challenge. The mousse is a study in textures: silky chocolate, a crunchy peanut caramel base and crisp chocolate on top, served alongside passion fruit sorbet and vanilla ice cream. Cherries jubilee might seem like a basic choice, but pistachio ice cream and the creamiest Champagne sabayon make this an absolute hit. (Hint: Try it with the cherry whiskey sour featuring Widow Jane Rye whiskey, angostura bitters, Luxardo cherry, agave and lime.)
When it’s time to leave, the amazing bridge vista appears again, and the historic pirate-ship-like Wavertree stands sentry nearby. Despite a lack of outside foot traffic, this stunning location is probably the restaurant’s biggest asset. But the layout of Pier 17’s winding complex means that as soon as you turn the corner, The Fulton disappears like a mythical island, and you’re left unsure if you could find its magic again.
How to Start
The breads are freshly baked and come with a dish of salted butter straight out of a seaside picnic in an Edith Wharton novel.
What to Drink
The lemon drop cocktail with Spring 44 vodka, agave, Peychaud’s Bitters and cinnamon pairs nicely with the fish.
How to Be a Purist
For quality seafood without add-ons, the Simply Cooked menu offers Maine scallops, halibut, prawns and wagyu beef tenderloin.