Legal Harborside is Legal Sea Foods’ 20,000 square foot flagship property on the Boston Waterfront, comprising three floors and three different concepts under one (retractable) roof. And, of course like other Legal Sea Food restaurants, it is notorious for its fresh and wide assortment of seafood menu offerings.
We opted for the third floor to take advantage of their exquisite chef’s cooking, the fabulous views and top notch wine list.
Legal Harborside’s third floor promenade deck offers a four-season rooftop lounge and bar as well as cosy seating in front of windows with great views of the pier. There’s also a copper-clad fireplace which is perfect for visits in colder months.
We were there this past August, so the weather was perfect, but decided not to sit on the patio since there was a fairly noisy concert next door at the time we were there — in summer months, it’s worth checking the concert schedule if you don’t want to compete with the noise.
That said, if you do end up sitting inside, the views are equally stunning however and in my case, it allowed me easy access to the open kitchen area to see what was coming off the grill. I, as always, had to start with some fresh oysters on the half shell, which we paired with a nice refreshing Chablis.
Their beverage menu offers 27 wines by the glass, a feature which I noted in our research and in addition to their regular menu and fabulous seafood offerings, they have a sushi menu, which includes sushi party boats, a great option if you’re there as a family or with a group of friends.
They also have a collection of rare wines and we spent time with the wine guru tasting a few whites he thought our palette would remember for awhile. In Vino Veritas says Sandy Block, their Master of Wine, who is clearly proud of the selection they have curated on-site.
For example, they had a Domaine Les Hertitiers du Comte Lafon, Vire-Clesse from Macon and by the class, you could get the Domaine Henry Natter Sancerre from Loire Valley. Of course they had the more standard buttery chard’s on the menu as well like Cakebread Cellars, Neyers from Sonoma and Forman “Star Vineyard’s Chardonnay from Napa, but it was the unique choices from France and Italy that had me at hello.
The restaurant is touted as being a notch above other Legal Sea Food restaurants (locals consistently told me this). It is located in the Seaport District, which makes it a stone’s throw and easy walking distance to the Institute of Contemporary Art, the World Trade Center, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the Bank of America Pavilion and hotels including the Renaissance Boston, Westin Waterfront and Seaport.
Gems on the menu included their smoked trout pate served with rye toast, pickled grapes and trout roe, fennel seared tuna with white beans, pepperoncini and bottarga, caviar (YUM), and the shellfish tower (which we did NOT get) which consisted of a combo of oysters, clams, king crab and shrimp cocktail. They also have a great prosciutto appetizer and the bread is fresh and like all their dishes, beautifully presented.
And, of course, there’s their classic New England creamy clam chowder.
And, deep fried calamari, freshly prepared and ready to be zipped out to the table.
The chilled spicy coconut soup was out of this world, served with shrimp, mango and avocado (so so fresh), as was something we weren’t going to get but in the end, were talked into — the fried oysters served with Korean short rib and kimchi remoulade. Talk about daring and not “quite” like the “other.” I was surprised just how delicious this was — we nearly didn’t order it but the waiter talked us into it. Smart move!
More grilling with fresh vegetables, perfectly sauteed and placed on top of the fish.
Since they specialize in seafood, the lobster soup is worth trying and they serve it in a unique way, with puff pastry and oloroso sherry. The size of the shrimp in the shrimp cocktail is let’s just say fit for a King, something I was told about from a local friend who had been there several times.
A dish we didn’t try but wished we had was their black pepper linguini appetizer, served with corn uni emulsion and summer truffle. What we did try simply because it sounded too good and unusual to pass up, was the Foie Gras Duo, which is a foie mousse, banana caramel (yes, really), and grilled mango. I asked how this was done and apparently miso is involved – they carmelize in a low oven and then put riped bananas in the freezer, add the miso and then…..Never mind, just order it. It’s out of this world.
For mains, they have a fluke with grilled summer squash, smoked tomato mussel nage and crab stuffed zucchini blossom, a Loche Duart Salmon with mole negro, native corn (always good in New England), masa cake and a cilantro cream, a Sauteed California Abalone with lemon risotto, guanciale, fried capers and that yummy oloroso sherry again that they also put in their lobster soup.
They do an unusual preparation of Yellowfin tuna — “nicoise style” with marble potatoes, a three bean salad and quail egg. Same goes for their Cap Cod Diver Scallops, which is served with a confit pork belly, sweet potato, mustard greens and peach mostarda. A must try! (photographed below)
If you must have red meat, they have a Creekstone Filet Mignon, served with Alaskan King Crab to make sure you at least try some of their seafood, all served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables with a sauce bearnaise.
We went for drinks after dinner on the more casual first floor of the restaurant where you can get shareable plates, pastas and pizzas made to order in an open kitchen. You can eat at one of the picnic tables for an authentic throwback experience or grab a seat at the oyster bar and watch their shuckers at work (up to 14 varieties of oysters are offered daily). A large elliptical bar offers both wine and local beers on tap and you can sit on their patio along Boston’s HarborWalk for a great view of the Boston Fish Pier, the oldest working fish pier in the country, and Boston’s city skyline.
If you think Legal Harborside can only shine in the seafood department, think again! The chef aced the desserts and we saw plenty of other options coming out of the kitchen that we didn’t try which made our mouth water despite how full we were! A big kudos and thanks to Matt our waiter, Cory the sommelier and Justin the manager for an outstanding experience.
If you have the time, visit their old-fashioned fish market where the seafood is fresh from the docks and the person behind the counter tells fish tales, knows where the fish was caught and how best to cook it. You’ll find a wide selection of fresh seafood by the pound, live lobster, grab-and-go and take-out.
Photo credits: Lobster photo (first shot), the sushi party boat and view of the water from inside the restaurant courtesy of Legal Harborside website, all other photo credits by Renee Blodgett.
Legal Harborside Restaurant
270 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
Note: we were hosted but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.