Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Legal Seafoods, Liberty Wharf, Boston

The Seaport of Boston is, wait for it....BOOMING.  Of course this is no real surprise-the influx of fine dining, water relishing bars and pubs, and over night expansion of high rise apartment buildings has taken over stories all over town.  This area of Southie, the dock district, has quickly become the place to be seen.  Journalists, bloggers and Yelpers alike seem to be camping out in this area, waiting for the next restaurant to open.  I can't blame them honestly- during those summer months the views that so many of the restaurants in this area are capitalizing on are gorgeous, and with a nice summer breeze- the outdoor dining spaces are perfection.  What does this all mean?  Reservations are a must for any place in the neighborhood. 

With that tip under our belts, I had the opportunity to dine at the brand new Legal Harborside yesterday for lunch.  Now Legal's is a bit of an institution here in Boston.  Now a large chain, it began as just a small little fish counter, pulling in fresh catches along the Eastern seaboard and feeding the people of the city.  Over time it grew and expanded and has opened restaurants down the East Coast, offering classic New England seafood dishes, with a smattering of the less classic as well, at higher end prices.  Earlier this year they opened their Harborside location as their brand new flagship location, with three floors of dining possibilities.  The first floor is a more casual space, with an all day menu and picnic table-esque arrangements.  The second floor is their formal space, with price tags to boot, and the top floor is a roof deck serving a full bar, and light bites.  Our luncheon was held on the first floor, and we were seated at a table offering a gorgeous view of Boston Harbor. 

I began my meal with a mug of their clam chowder.  I gotta say, for some reason, Legal's Clam Chowder is where it's at.  There is no discern able "layering of flavors" that I usually look for, there is no bacon flavor, or any specific herbs, there is nothing in this clam chowder that makes it "special" or different, it just thick, rich, creamy and chock full of huge pieces of fresh clams. It is the chowder I grew up on, so my opinion may be skewed, but my mug was incredibly satisfying yesterday.

I selected the grilled swordfish salad for my entree.  The menu stated that this salad was comprised of chickpeas, tomatoes, fennel, basil, cucumber and a lemon vinaigrette-sounding rooted in Italian ingredients- I was thrilled to try this.  I anticipated a big leafy salad to be delivered to the table with all of those great ingredients dispersed throughout.  However my dish arrived without a single shred of lettuce and the rough salad sat next to a nicely sized portion of grilled swordfish.  Large chunks of cucumber, quartered plumb tomatoes, and a smattering of chickpeas were tossed with shaved fennel, heavily dressed and then sprinkled with basil.  Conceptually, I loved this dish.  The salad had great textural contrasts between the crunchy cucumber and the unique chickpeas, and I loved the addition of the fresh basil to the mix.  Unfortunately however, the rest of the flavors fell flat.  The tomatoes were a bit lifeless, the dressing was missing any brightness, and even the fennel, normally so crisp and pungent was lackluster.  It was a salad I felt sorry for- each ingredient a shell of what it could be.  To be perfectly frank- I think the salad was made the day before and the ingredients lost their personalities.  A shame for sure.  

The swordfish, on the other hand, was well prepared, thick and meaty.  Prepared simply with salt and pepper the natural flavor of the dense fish was on display here.

As I have come to expect, albeit sadly, from Legal, I walked away disappointed.  Legal Seafood's appears to be resting on it's laurels, assuming that because they are Legal they are immune to a bad meal.

"Dear Legal's-I remember how great you once were- please recommit yourself to bringing back that level of quality."


1 comment:

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I hear ya... the real draw (for me) to this location is the ambiance. The meal/service has been just ok the couple times I've been there. But the cocktails and views can't be beat!

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