Popular Ferndale spot Voyager gets a new chef

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Known for freshly shucked oysters, tropical cocktails and, lately, an ever-changing "dockside" carryout menu, Ferndale's Voyager is rolling into mid-summer with a new chef. 

Justin Fulton takes over the kitchen for outgoing chefs Justin Tootla and Jennifer Jackson, who decided to leave last month. Tootla confirmed to The Detroit News that he and Jackson are starting a new project locally, with details to come down the line. 

Ferndale's Voyager is currently offering carryout and patio dining.

Fulton most recently worked at Italian restaurant Pernoi in Birmingham. Voyager owner Eli Boyer said he's expecting Fulton to make some changes to the menu and reorganize the kitchen, but he's only temporarily dropping his anchor. 

"He’s been a great breath of fresh air," said Boyer, who admits it's an interesting time to be hiring. "He’s actually just joining us for a short term here, he’s planning to relocate in the fall to Colorado with his family. Justin is coming in here refreshing, reorganizing with an eye towards what we need to be doing at this time and planning for what we can plan for and continuing to adjust our business model to what people want."

Boyer says what people want is changing on a weekly basis. Voyager, which was named one of the country's best restaurants by Food & Wine Magazine in 2018, is only open for patio dining and carryout at the moment. 

Their dockside carryout menu has shuck-em-yourself chilled oysters and other raw bar items, crab cakes, whitefish dip and more, including to-go beer, wine and cocktails, which debuted this week. There's also some retail and grocery offerings like dry goods and fresh produce. 

Fulton will steer the menu to the more casual side of seafood, adding British-style fish and chips, Maine mussels with heirloom beans and a Connecticut-style lobster roll.

"It’s exciting to see these new things that we’re trying actually take off," says Boyer, who also owns Lovers Only Detroit burger restaurant in Capitol Park. "I feel like it's made us a better service to our community. We become more accessible, more approachable."

He says that he can see the restaurant holding on to some of the more casual approaches even when Voyager returns to a full service restaurant. 

As for his Detroit eateries, Boyer says things have been going well since late May, although the dining room isn't open. The breakfast menu at Iggy's Eggies is being served 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily from the walk-up window only at 34 W. Grand River.  The menu also offers some favorites from the adjacent Lovers Only, including the grass-fed burgers. 

Voyager, 600 Vester in Ferndale, is open 4-9 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Visit voyagerferndale.com to order online or call (248) 658-4999 for carryout. 

More:High-end Birmingham spot transitions to more casual 'Casa Pernoi'

More:Lobster bonanzas are back at Mudgie's and Hazel's


Twitter: @melodybaetens