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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
LEGAL SEA FOODS
Legal Sea Foods was started many years ago in Boston. We first experienced Legal's delights while living in the Boston area between 1982 and 1984. Back then they had only three outlets in Beantown. Since then there has been tremendous growth.
We happened upon the Arlington branch by accident one day while killing some time on the way to Reagan National Airport. We were hungry and spotted their restaurant on 23rd Street. As luck would have it there was one parking space available right on the street directly outside the restaurant. That's a one in a million deal in this busy part of the Washington, D.C. area.
I knew right off the bat what I was going to have -- what I always have at Legal. That means a starter of steamer clams or, as they are known in Boston, "pisser" clams. They're soft shell clams with a long snout and you must peel the skin off the snout. Then you take your cleaned clam (once the meat is out of the shell) dip it in clam broth to get rid of any silt or sand and then comes the final butter bath before enjoying the tender morsel. For my main course I went with the traditional baked Boston scrod. The clams were sensational. They were tender, the perfect size and absolutely sweet. The scrod was good but a little disappointing. It was overcooked for one thing and while I wouldn't swear this to be true, it tasted more like Alaskan cod than north Atlantic cod. Alaskan cod, while certainly good, doesn't have as much flavor as Atlantic cod.
My wife passed on starters and ordered a special salmon for her main course and she said it was excellent. It came with a creamy sauce of some sort. Our daughter began her meal with an order of clam chowder (New England style) and she said it was good but not the best she's ever had. This surprised me because I have nothing but fond memories of their chowder in Boston. For her main course she went with a shrimp trio, which was outstanding. She got three jumbo shrimp prepared three different ways. One preparation involved coconut slivers on the outside deep fried with almost a curry flavor inside. The second preparation was a simple grilling over a wood fire. The third presentation was the best -- stuffed shrimp. Our son-in-law got fish and chips. He wasn't too pleased with his. The fish, while certainly good, came in very thin strips that almost curled when they were fried. Our two grand kids shared a full order of calamari and loved it. They were nearly four at the time and can't ever get enough squid. They even love the tentacles! They shared an order of "fish sticks" and mac and cheese. The fish sticks consisted of fresh fish and were outstanding. In fact, they were a heck of lot better than my scrod!
The gals finished dinner by sharing a piece of Boston cream pie and it was quite good -- I'm told! (No, I actually didn't try it. I was too full.)
I can't say everything was a perfect ten here and our waitress was actually pretty lousy to be honest. But I sure enjoyed those pisser clams!
Legal Sea Foods in Arlington is located at 320 23rd Street and it's only about five minutes from Reagan National Airport. Good luck on finding street parking, however. Then again if you miss the Legal in Arlington there's another one in one of the airport terminal buildings.
The main Legal Seafoods web site is here.