photo credit: Nicole Franzen

What To Eat (And Skip) At The Tin Building By Jean-Georges feature image

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What To Eat (And Skip) At The Tin Building By Jean-Georges

Here's what we think of all the places at the massive Seaport food hall from Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The Tin Building closed in 2005, after the old Fulton Fish Market moved uptown. But now it's back as a massive food hall, under the direction of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. This Seaport spot has both full-service and fast casual concepts, with a lot of outdoor seating—and it doesn't just feel like your average mall food court. You can walk around the whole place with a glass of wine like you're in your own home and pick up some groceries while you're at it. But this place is also pricier than most food halls, and for some things—like pizza and tacos—you're better off going elsewhere. Here are all the spots to check out (and avoid) at the Tin Building.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nicole Franzen

House of the Red Pearl review image
7.8

House of the Red Pearl

$$$$

96 South St, New York
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

House of the Red Pearl is a speakeasy-ish Chinese-inspired spot that you enter through a curtain at the back of the Asian goods store Mercantile East. The dining room has lantern-like light fixtures and a huge mural of scenes from a Chinese village—design choices that, at best, feel extremely cheesy. Still, this place has our favorite food at the Tin Building. Their top dish is a take on Peking duck, which comes with soy-glazed breast meat and a confit quarter leg with crispy skin that we can’t stop thinking about. If you work nearby, this restaurant would work well for a business dinner. The experience leans upscale, the space is relatively quiet, and there's a semi-private room in case you want to do a team outing.

The Fulton Fish Market used to be at the same location as the Tin Building for almost 200 years, so it’s only fitting that there’s a raw bar and seafood spot here. At Fulton Fish Co., you’ll sit at a counter in front of a cornucopia of things from the ocean—all laid out on a massive amount of crushed ice. The razor clams with a yuzu vinaigrette and sea salt are a must-order, and if you’ve been searching for someone to talk about bivalves with, you and your server can nerd out about all the different oysters available that day. You can also get hot dishes like fish and chips and a shrimp burger. Start with a few raw bar items, then get something greasy like the fried clams and shrimp over iceberg lettuce tossed in a creamy buttermilk dressing.

Seeds & Weeds serves vegetarian and vegan food. Start with a green juice in a wine glass, then try the blue corn sourdough bread with fantastic hazelnut butter or the sweet, spicy, tomato broth with corn-and-shiitake-stuffed wontons (our favorite thing here). This second floor restaurant has a bunch of potted plants, light wood furniture, and pastel green seating, and it’s the only place to eat in the Tin Building where you can get a view of the East River. So try to get a table next to a window.

One of the most famous French chefs in the world is behind this food hall, so you'll probably want to check out the French restaurant here. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the stronger spots in the Tin Building. The space has black floors, green tile walls, and white marble tables, and it feels like a nice cafe that’s fitting for a date. Start with the bright green escargots, which are more herbaceous than garlicky. Then, if it’s the right time of year, get the salad with at least four different varieties of juicy heirloom tomatoes. The signature burger with gruyère and green chili mustard comes on a puff pastry bun, which sounds like a good idea on paper—but it's super rich and heavy. The whole thing is a bit much.

Skikku is your best option if you want a relaxing break from all the people-dodging you’ll be doing at the Tin Building. You’ll get a cold lemongrass-scented towel as soon as you sit down, which sets the tone for the calming experience you’re about to have. The only seats are at an expansive square counter where you can order one of several varieties of sake. All the nigiri and maki are made with high-quality fish, and some of the rolls have interesting components, like the sansho and serrano peppers that come on top of the yellowtail one.

Considering all the options in this food hall, a salad or sandwich probably doesn’t seem that exciting. But this seemingly forgettable station is one of the spots we like the most. You can build your own custom salad, or if you’re not in a decision-making mood, you can get a house creation like the one with grilled shrimp, crunchy potato sticks, and yellow summer beans. They also have one of the best roast beef sandwiches we’ve had. The beef is warm, garlicky, and good enough to eat by itself with a fork.

The concept of this place is simple. You choose a bread (English muffin, brioche, or a roll), an egg type (whole, whites, or vegan), and one of eight “styles” (roast mushrooms with salsa verde, for example). And there you have it: your very own ideal breakfast sandwich (or at least something close to it). Sandwiches run $9-$16, but they’re quite large and come stuffed with a lot of fluffy eggs. Be sure to get a hash brown on the side. It comes in the form of a long stick, with a pomme purée-like texture on the inside.

If you can walk by the display cases filled with cookies, pies, cakes, parfaits, and pastries without stopping to at least take a look, we admire your willpower. Our favorite thing at the Pâtisserie is the mixed berry étoile, which has various fillings like jam and custard piped into choux pastry. It’s like having five desserts in one. We also like the caramelized bananas in the banana pudding, which provide a welcome bitterness to an otherwise very sweet dessert. This is the perfect spot to drop by on your way out so you can pick up something for that person in your life with a major sweet tooth.

Tired of making sandwiches at home with Wonder Bread? Dramatically improve your lunch by picking up a seeded sourdough or whatever whole loaf jumps out at you at the Bakery at Tin Building. The croissants here are pretty standard, but the focaccia and custard danish stand out. The former, with its blistered, crackly crust and fluffy interior, is the best use of $3 at this entire food hall. The latter is buttery, a little lemony, and has an egg tart-like middle. We tried to eat only half of it—and failed.

This little station on the first floor near all the fresh produce serves sweet and savory dosas and crêpes. (The latter come in buckwheat or classic.) A crêpe from here is about the same as a crêpe you’d get anywhere else. Varieties like ham/gruyère and banana/Nutella/chocolate are available, but they also have unique combinations like vanilla sponge cake with almond paste and meringue. It’s kind of fun to watch your order being made right in front of you.

While you’re at the Tin Building, it’s entirely possible that a few hours will pass without you even noticing. You still might want to hit a few spots—but you’re so tired already. T Café is where to go for something with caffeine, and it’s one of the few places in the food hall with lots of windows. For a lighter breakfast or lunch, you can get things like a fresh-squeezed juice or overnight oats made with wild bee pollen. You can always add a bagel or a pastry from the bakery or pâtisserie right next door when you’re checking out.

The food at this Italian restaurant is a mixed bag. We’re fans of the fried calamari that’s blanketed with lots of shredded parm and comes with a salsa verde instead of a boring marinara. On the other hand, the bucatini with clams and grated broccoli is just too salty. It’s nice to sit at the counter that faces the open kitchen, especially if you’re coming in from the cold, because the heat from the pizza oven will warm you up in seconds. Speaking of the pizzas, they’re thin, crispy, and generally fine, but you’re better off heading to Kesté—less than a 10-minute walk away—if you’re in the mood for a pie.

We’re into tacos. You probably are too. But you shouldn’t get them here. The fish tacos at this counter-service taqueria on the second floor come with a tiny portion of fried flounder and way too much cabbage. It’s like having a spicy slaw taco drizzled with more aioli than you need. While the roasted chicken taco is nicely seasoned, the actual meat is overcooked and chopped into small charred and crispy pieces. You can hardly tell you’re eating chicken. Since you won’t be able to hit every place in the Tin Building in one visit anyway, this is one of the spots to skip.

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