“If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal”
In 2011, Cambridge-born Legal Sea Foods set sail to the city, docking its flagship property in Boston’s Seaport District. Six years later, Legal Harborside is an award-winning, iconic and top-of-mind destination for both out-of-town visitors and locals.
Under one (retractable) roof, Legal Harborside houses three distinctive floors; each takes on a unique concept, touting exclusive ambiances and menus. Regardless of the level, you’re sure to have a good view of the Boston Fish Pier – the oldest working fish pier in the country – and the city skyline.
The first-floor hull is a nod to Legal Harborside’s roots as a casual fish market. Guests celebrate its heritage in an informal setting, choosing among several seafood favorites prepared in an open kitchen. Seating is available outdoors alongside Boston’s bustling HarborWalk; inside at picnic tables, resembling the original store’s setting; or at the oyster bar, watching the shuckers at work with up to 14 types of oysters daily.
Take the grand spiral staircase to the second floor and you’ve stepped into a more upscale scene. This fine dining section offers “cuisine prepared for celebratory eating” and a unique selection of artisan wines. The design intends to be reminiscent of a ship’s dining room, with a curved rosewood ceiling and glossy black columns inspired by the mast of a ship that anchors the space.
But, the best part is one more flight of stairs higher: A four-season rooftop lounge and bar that’s worth the climb and inevitable line out front. In the summer, guests enjoy the outdoors while eating sushi and drinking ice cold pitchers of sangria under the sun. In colder months, the roof transforms into a fully enclosed glass-walled space, with a copper-clad fireplace for added warmth and coziness. Through any season, the view is supreme and the drinks are flowing.
“If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal,” the company has vowed for decades, serving only the highest-quality, freshest fish. And, it’s certainly upheld this promise throughout the years.
Legal Sea Foods is a seafood company in the restaurant business, setting the industry standard for freshness and purity by buying cold-water fish that is either “top of catch” or from day boat operators. Items are also tested for purity in its Quality Control Center, a state-of-the-art fish processing plant with a food safety laboratory.
@igersboston was fortunate to have a patio table reserved on a gorgeous Friday evening in Boston. Lavish boats cruised by, live music echoed from the neighboring Blue Hills Bank Pavilion venue, and eventually, the sun painted the sky vibrant shades and disappeared into the night.
Chef Jackson Wu, who has been working with Legal Sea Foods for more than 10 years, served our first few dishes and enthusiastically detailed the preparations. For many items, ingredients were minimal, as the freshest seafood doesn’t need too much.
The Shellfish Platter featured an exquisite assortment of raw oysters (Wellfleet), Alaskan king crab legs and raw clams (littlenecks and cherrystones), freshly shucked, chilled on ice and served alongside four homemade accompaniments. The showstopper, however, was the Harborside Tempura Lobster Roll (avocado, lobster, tobiko, spicy mayo, teriyaki), served with its head and tail.
Rather unique, all fried items on the menu are gluten-free, as chefs use brown rice chickpea flour. The Fish & Chips, for example, are served with the day’s catch of flaky, white fish, battered in said flour, and they taste just as good – if not better – than the classically prepared version.
Keep reading for our full list of indulgences.
To close the evening, Wu brought us his “favorite” desserts (Bon Bons and Boston Cream Pie). Although the answer seemed quite obvious after tasting the chocolate-coated ice cream, we asked what’s kept him at Legal Sea Foods for so long: “The food really does not get any fresher, and I just love the different facets of this particular restaurant,” he noted. “The first floor is waterfront, with clean, easy food; the second floor is a fine dining, more elegant experience; and the third floor is an energetic party. We have everything under one roof.”
If the weather is beautiful, try your best to snag a patio table for dinner. Make your way upstairs after to have a cocktail in the open-air, third floor bar.
Legal Harborside is open daily at 270 Northern Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Reservations are recommended.
New England Clam Chowder
Baked Stuffed Artichokes: prepared with shrimp and scallop stuffing
Shellfish Platter: freshly shucked chilled raw shellfish (raw oysters, Alaskan king crab legs and raw clams)
Harborside Tempura Lobster Roll: avocado, lobster, tobiko, spicy mayo, teriyaki
Fish & Chips: flaky white fish battered in brown rice chickpea flour, served with fries and coleslaw
Tuna Crudo Taco: crudito and avocado, served on corn tortillas
Bon Bons: Bite-sized scoops of ice cream dipped in chocolate
Boston Cream Pie: rum cream and chocolate ganache
For the chance to win a $50 certificate, please return to review post on Instagram and comment the food item you want to try most and tag a friend you’d like to bring with you here! We will be randomly selecting two winners on Friday September 1st.
Disclosure: @igersboston received this meal complimentary, in exchange for an honest review and two (2) $50 gift cards, to be given away to the @igersboston Instagram community. Alyssa Hiller (@thebeaconhiller) wrote this post; thoughts are her own. Images were produced by Saili Kline (@ddskline).