The Tin Building Magnificently Revitalizes the Seaport
Jean-Georges curates a wonderfully diverse foodie destination
When you visit The Tin Building — the new food/retail hall at the South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 — you’re bound to notice Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s presence.
We mean that literally.
The 53,000-square-foot culinary marketplace — which is officially called The Tin Building by Jean-Georges — is currently open for limited summer preview hours, Thursday-Sunday, from 12-5 p.m. And at noon on those days, you’ll find the acclaimed chef literally opening the doors of the historic building for customers. You’re also bound to run into him (and take a selfie) during your exploration of the three-story space; on a random Friday afternoon, we saw the chef a handful of times just walking around and saying hi.
“The idea here is to really see, taste and feel what Jean-Georges has experienced in the last 30 years,” a rep for the building told us during a tour. But you don’t have to be a fan of the renowned chef to appreciate what the Tin Building has to offer — and how much it may help revitalize one of Manhattan’s oldest and often overlooked neighborhoods.
The Tin Building, initially a small wooden structure built in 1835, is one of two surviving major structures of the Fulton Fish Market — though the building has been moved, disassembled and rebuilt several times during its long history. The current design by Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors takes a lot of inspiration from the building’s 1920/30s heyday, while anchoring the interior with ribbons of brass, turned wood details, marble surfaces, handmade tiles and archways. While it certainly evokes classic New York (particularly those subway-esque tiles), each store and restaurant in the building offers its own unique design and energy.
The revitalized Tin Building, over six years in development, is part of the Seaport’s larger revitalization efforts (many done in partnership with The Howard Hughes Corporation), a necessary rebuild after the floods from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Thankfully, this new structure should appeal to both culinary-minded visitors and locals alike — there are six upscale takeout places within the structure best suited for residents and FiDi workers, plus dedicated stalls in the building’s Central Market for produce, fish, pork, spices, olive oils, flowers and more, aimed at the high-end grocery crowed (much of it locally sourced, though you’ll also find an array of international products as well, particularly from Asia.)
Our suggestion is to go see The Tin Building now before expanded hours (and bigger crowds) arrive in late September. When we visited, there was certainly a good number of people, but also plenty of seats, very little jostling and a lot of Jean-Georges making the rounds.
Below, a suggested itinerary for an afternoon at The Tin Building:
For a late breakfast or super-early drink: It won’t be difficult to find baked goods or coffee on the first floor, but once you enter the building we suggest taking an immediate right and heading toward Double Yolk, a breakfast-sandwich bar by day and caviar bar by night (when the hours shift). As a rep for the building noted, “Whatever the time, it’s still about eggs.”
For restocking your shelves: You can certainly get an expensive grocery trip out of your visit — this is a market, after all. But for dry goods, check out Mercantile, which features a new range of Jean-Georges–branded products, a custom line of spices and two custom coffee blends by La Colombe.
For a cocktail: There are plenty of bars within The Tin Building (including Beer Here!, a well-stocked craft beer destination where all the brews were personally selected by Jean-Georges), but we suggest heading upstairs to Mercantile East, an Asian food boutique, and popping behind the curtain in the back. There, you’ll find a hidden Cantonese restaurant and speakeasy called The House of the Red Pearl. The space is admittedly more about the food, but there’s a beautiful bar upfront that practically demands a sit-down cocktail.
For a shareable afternoon meal: The Frenchman’s Dough, where you can enjoy a French take on Italian staples (I loved the ravioli and the lemongrass raspberry Negroni, while the Limone Pizza — which combines preserved lemon, fresh ricotta, fontina and parmesan cheese — is uniquely delicious.)
For your dessert (and your Instagram): Spoiled Parrot, a second-floor confectionary store with a mirrored ceiling and a space awash in pink hues and globe lights. It’s pretty much Willy Wonka come to life, although certainly stocked with more artisanal (and local) chocolates and candies.
And, for fish: There’s a cool and quiet sushi place tucked in back, but the loudest and most fun vibe we witnessed came from Fulton Fish Co., a seafood dining counter and restaurant with a full raw bar.
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