It has been quite a transformation for the quiet Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport since my wife Jun and I moved in together in Financial District a couple of years ago. The once sleepy Pier 17 now has a beautiful (and surprisingly not very crowded on our visit this summer) rooftop bar that also hosts concerts of popular artists, as well as outdoor bars and restaurants, one of which is a new seafood place from the acclaimed Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While the magic of his eponymous restaurant has disappeared (at least for Jun and myself), I was curious to see what the Fulton was up to since it was so close to our home and when we were walking around the Pier 17 outside, the restaurant looked like a good date night spot. On a recent Saturday, we invited another couple to join us at the Fulton. Overall, it was a solid dinner, with a couple of sensational dishes mixed with some duds.
Jean-Georges has made a name for himself with raw seafood dishes that are prepared with Asian-based ingredients and flavors so it was not surprisingly to see one section of the menu devoted to crudos. We got the fluke from Long Island that came with habanero vinaigrette, Sichuan bud and mint. The spicy kick to the fluke was a nice touch, although I wished there were more than 6 pieces of the fish (at $16). The beautifully plated crispy soft shell crab also displayed a similarly spicy flavor from jalapeno-coriander salsa that worked quite well with the crab, which was quickly gone as everyone in the party enjoyed it. Not all dishes were executed as well as I had hoped. The warm octopus had the nice texture to it, but it was at odds with the mozzarella that came in cubes. And the kitchen could certainly learn from Jean-Georges’ son whose Indonesian restaurant Wayan (see my previous review here) https://kenscale.com/2019/07/28/wayan/) had a very good lobster noodle; the “longevity” noodles from the Fulton, also containing glazed Maine lobster, felt rather dull.
Both main dishes we shared were, however, a success. The salmon crusted with spices was quite aptly cooked with a nice balance of flavor and texture, and if you don’t mind shelling $120, you should definitely try the whole black sea bass en croute baked in pastry crust. A staff came to carve the sea bass in front of you and served two large plates, accompanied by tomato consommé and béarnaise sauce. It was one of the best seafood dishes I’ve had this year, and despite its massive size, the plates were left completely empty. Don’t skip dessert at the Fulton. The clear winner is the Meyer lemon pudding with lemon sorbet and toasted meringue that Jun was very fond of, and the chocolate mousse with peanut caramel, chocolate crunch, passion fruit sorbet and vanilla ice cream was not shabby either.
Getting a reservation at the Fulton has become progressively difficult thanks to its venue and a wave of favorable reviews from professional critics. Always do book ahead if you want to secure prime time dinner seats. There is full bar with a wine list that I thought could be a little bit more diner-friendly from pricing standpoint. In terms of the location, depending on where you sit, the Fulton can be quite a stunner if you are facing the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want to grab after-dinner drinks, there is now Bar Wayo from David Chang’s Momofuku group in the same Pier 17 area as well as the Lookout bar next to the restaurant that offers a trendy vibe. The Fulton didn’t leave as strong an impression as some of the newcomers that Jun and I had visited in our neighborhood, but it is the type of restaurant where it is hard for you to go wrong with. We will certainly keep this place in mind when entertaining any out-of-town visitors.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 89 South Street, New York, NY 10038
Telephone: (212) 838-1200