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Legal Seafoods- So ever poor

I have to admit, Legal has been my favorite restaurant for seafood since the first small place run by George Berkowitz opened its doors in Inman Square. In the early 70's, we used to go almost weekly. How tragic that it has now failed me more often than satisfied me.

Last two visits- the first in the Copley Place location. Oysters great as usual. The fried calamari sat in oil, and cold. So far ok, until a waitress off duty sat two seats away from me and my wife. I had to hear about the "deuce that f...ed" her over with a lousy tip. The waitrons on duty then started to congregate, each with a litany of complaints, obscenities and graphic descriptions of customers that they waited on. We paid, left 15%, and did not have the rest of our meal.

Second meal, Peabody location, much worse.

Qysters again awesome. Tuna sashii awful. with a liquid smoke taste that was inedible. Sent back. Beer good and cold. Famous mojito lim[, watery, with old mint and rotting sugar cane. We drank them.

My 78 yr old mother had the grilled fish combo. Waitress informed her that she could not choose the seafood selection. OK said she. Fish overcooked, mashed potatoes like school paste. Kept it.

This used to be the only place to get bluefish. No more. Off taste, way overcooked, and the mustard sauce missing.

My wifes 46.95 baked stuffed lobster. Edible, but not much more. The meat in the claws so overcooked that they had fused with the shell. The dressing was cold near the back of the lobster. Drawn butter never arrived.

Fried clams cold. Were they warm, I think that they would have been good.

Now for the climax- how hard is it to make an Irish Coffee? My mother still remembers them at the Buena Vista in SF, and asked for one. It came with no whipped cream. "No problem" said our waitress, and proceeded to bring out a can of whipped topping, shake it up, and put the last several molecules left on the coffee. Shards of cream went on the table. Well, at least we got the cream. But the taste of the coffee- it was salty. The bartender had dipped the rim in salt. "Happens", said our waitress. They are next to each other, apparently.

My 7 year old wants the same ice cream that the folks at the next table got. Time passes. Restaurant seems to be emptying. "No ice cream. It all melted" We got the check and paid, 15%, and left, never, after 36 years and hundreds of meals, ever to return again.

Too bad. They have great oysters and a killer wine list that is remarkably affordable.

If George could have only seen what was going on in his namesake restaurant. Maybe Roger cares, but who would know. Posted on chains board as well


posted by aadesmd 2 minutes ago

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  1. We had a disappointing experience at the Legal in the Prudential Center on Saturday. It was actually our first visit to a Legal, after all the years of hearing about it and thinking we should try it, but of course reading the cautionary tales on this board. But we were at the Pru with a friend who was visiting from Toronto, it was lunchtime, and we thought, what the heck, we ought to have at least one Legal Seafood experience.

    And we will have only one. It was not terrible, but there are so many other good restaurants here that we have no reason to go back and get mediocre food.

    1. Sorry to hear of the bad experience. I hope that you've conveyed this to Roger Berkowitz.
      As concierge, we send guests to Legal. No complaints so far. But our favorites in the area are Skipjack's and Atlantic Fish Co. We get good reviews for these. SJ's has a professional wait-staff that makes a big difference. And my last visit to Legal--Park Sq---was decent food presented by a well-meaning, and obviously amature wait-staff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lorpa

        We have dumped Legal for Skipjacks. Legal is inconsistent - to say the least. In Framingham, the waiter was rude and sales-y and made us feel guilty for not choosing an expensive wine. That was our last visit.

      2. Folks, please feel free to share your thoughts on your experiences at LOCAL outposts of the Legal seafoods chain, but for general comments on the menu or chain in general, please use the Chains board. Thanks.

        1. Sorry to hear. we eat at the Legal in Chestnut HIll and Route 9 in Framingham very frequently and have never, ever had a bd meal or a bad dish. Also, we are warmly greeted and get great service. Maybe these two branches are an exception. We were there friday and had delicious oysters, the mixed greens with tomato balsamic an crumbled blue cheese was fresh and very tasty as usual, Fish and chips and sole with capers and lemon excellent. You should communicate to the managment.

          1 Reply
          1. re: emilief

            i had the worst service of my life at the chestnut hill legal's. i should have known better than to go in when i passed by the large group of the waitstaff gaggling (loudly)outside smoking cigarettes. amateur service with boring food. oysters there are good, but how do you screw that up?

            one good thing about legal's though is that they have excellent prices for their wines. they have so many restaurants to supply that they can buy wine in bulk so even with a mark-up it's a great deal for the customers.

          2. I personally have only been to Legal's once and I loved the food. Maybe I am nuts...lol. I went to the one in Kendall Square and I ordered fried seafood platter. I would go more often but my budget does not allow.

            1. Have not had a memorable meal (in the positive sense) in any Boston downtown Legal. Usually its cold, or overcooked or some other bad stuff.

              The only time i have found the food at least edible was at Logan Airport or Reagan Airport. quick bowl of chowdah, sorta sets the tummy right before a flight.

              1. I've never had any issues with the one at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree.

                I've never had an issue with the one downtown either.

                Nor at the one in Chestnut Hill.

                Maybe it's those particular locations that seem to be the issue?


                1. Whatever anyone says, the places are always packed so they must be doing something right. Just heard a rumor that they are opening another location in Wellesley on Linden Street. Anyone heard that???

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: emilief

                    That does not necessarily indicate that they are doing the food right. As H. L. Mencken said, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

                    That said, though, I must say that they did a few things right: the room was comfortable, the service was good, and they didn't mind us feeding our 6-month-old in the dining room. If only the food weren't mediocre . . .

                    1. re: emilief

                      Hm, Linden Street in Wellesley would put it pretty close to Captain Marden's.

                    2. I have never had a problem at the Framingham location or chestnut hill. Burlington is often too crowded

                      1. Seven of us (4 adults, 3 kids) went to the Legals in the North Shore Mall in Peabody last Friday. The food, service and attitude were great! Perfectly cooked Calamari, crab cakes, baked stuffed shrimp etc. Even the hostess went out of her way to accomodate us. We have had somewhat lackluster experiences at Legals before but this one was firing on all cylinders at least that night. Best crab cakes my 10 year old had ever had and he is a true expert, believe me. Not a cheap night but we had a blast.

                        1. In my experience the Pru location has the worst food and service. I was told it was a "training" location, so that may account for it. The service has sometimes been unacceptably bad. Was once told they "don't have" red tabasco sauce and waitress refused to even ask about it. The manager found some though. heh heh. Food there is inconsistant -- can be terrific and can be sent back.

                          IMO Skipjacks is at the bottom of my list. Our experiences there have been so bad that we'll not go back. And we work 300 feet away.

                          1. I alway eat at the bar and I've pretty much always been happy with the Pru, Quincy Market, and Kendall Square locations (don't like the Route 9 place at all).

                            1. I've eaten at the Burlington location at least 6-8 times in the past 2 years and have been disappointed consistently. The food is mediocre at best, service is perfunctory and the place is loud beyond comfort.

                              1. We ate at the Legal in Terminal C at Logan on the way down to Texas at Christmas. Sat at the bar, had a lobster roll and my travelling companion had the caesar salad and the smoked salmon sandwich. Lobster roll was delicious and loaded with meat, french fries were tasty. The caesar salad was OK--it was served with anchovies, but needed a squeeze of lemon or something to give it a little more bite. The smoked salmon sandwich was ill-conceived. The beautiful lox gets lost in the lettuce, tomato, bread etc. Still, to be able to eat food of this quality at an airport is something to be grateful for.

                                1. i go to the park square and kendall locations occasionally. have basically narrowed my ordering to the oysters and the bluefish pate. plus they have great alsatian white wines, very reasonably priced, and i only sit at the bar.

                                  went right before christmas, the pate was horrible. tasted like cream cheese soaked in wine, and the portion was tiny. neither of us had more than a bite. the bartender heard us complaining to each other, and said, "oh, gee, that's too bad." he didn't remove the plate, or take it off the bill.

                                  so now i'd only go for oysters, and would much rather go to neptune for those.

                                  1. We had the Crispy Thai Squid and some oysters at the Peabody Legals along with a broiled haddock and pan seared tuna - all excellent and well served by pro staff. Sorry to hear so many inconsistent reports

                                    1. I used to work at LSF back several years ago and depending on the location (ie the managers who are at that location as well as the staff) it can vary from very good to very bad. I actually got so upset at my managers and co-workers several years ago that I walked out, I'm not the type to ditch a job but they were horrible. It was the Charles Square location down by Harvard.

                                      The Copley store is known throughout the chain as a bad location. Apparently Park and the Aquarium are supposed to be nice. I've enjoyed the Kendall location every time I'v ebeen there as I'm an MIT student.

                                      I also have many friends and family who have had HORRIBLE experiences. When I heard their dining experiences, I couldn't explain the inexecusable service, similar to the original posting.

                                      If anyone really does intend on going, I would suggest the double stuffed shrimp, the crab dip, for a non-alcoholic drink an arnold palmer, and bananas foster for dessert.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hugglyj

                                        The most illuminating post so far. Sounds like they have a hard time with consistency both across and within locations. Which would account for the wildly divergent opinions/experiences.

                                      2. I am a legal seafood lover. I am particularly excited about the rumor that they are opening a restaurant in Wellesley on Linden street where there are new buildings going up. Between that, Vela (the new Italian) and Alta Strada (where Figs used to be- opening soon) Wellesley is becoming a dining destination.

                                        1. Funny, I've been to the LSF at Aquarium/Long Wharf a number of times and have no complaints. The food and service always has been good.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: kallis33

                                            that's where i had the single worst restaurant experience of my three decades of living in boston and when i vowed to never spend a dime at legal's ever again.

                                            1. re: kallis33

                                              I used to like this one - we live in walking distance and it was a reliable spot to bring out of town guests. However, last year after the last three visits, we are no longer fans. Once we sat in the bar to have dinner and watch a game while a young woman proceeded to get more inebriated, swearing and yelling at the opposing team. It was tolerated (she was told to quiet down a couple of times) because the girl was an off-hours employee. The fried clams were also over-cooked, though they did replace them with a new batch. The second time the lobsters were overcooked. The last time, they confused three orders out of a table of six, forgot two of the components of the corrected lobster bake, and insisted to me that my split and grilled lobster was the baked-stuffed I had ordered ("no, that's the baked stuffed", "uh, there's no stuffing"), until another waitress came over and agreed it was a mistake. So they might not be terrible (we've had some good meals), but I'm not paying for inconsistency.

                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                I have not been in about three months, is it possible things have gone significantly downhill in that time? My mother, who lives out of state, loves that place and I take her every time she visits. Montana, where she lives, is not exactly a seafood mecca. Especially for clams and lobster. I must admit a great fondness for their chowder.

                                                1. re: kallis33

                                                  This was early last year, so I admit I haven't been recently. We have family who visit from Texas and Arizona, so that was one their must-do's when they came to Boston, which made the last visit with them especially disappointing. I guess I can't rule out another try, but it can be an expensive meal to take a chance. I do like some of the dishes (the bluefish pate, butterfish with seaweed salad, the spicy fish and chips, classic lobster and steamers), and have never had a complaint about the freshness of the seafood. Also, the last few pre-concert meals at LTK last summer were consistently good.

                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    I love the spicy fish and chips!

                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      So, because of some recent positives on this thread, I decided to give it another try recently when we had family visiting from Austin. No wait at about 7:30 on a Friday night (the Long Wharf location) . Our server (Josh I think) was excellent - on top of everything. And all our meals were very good. Two had classic surf and turfs - one filet with baked stuffed shrimp, one with lobster. Everything was cooked perfectly. I had the special of Dover Sole - expertly done, and filleted at the table. So thumbs-up on this latest visit!

                                              2. Legals is terrible! The food at LTK's is the worst! My husband and I have gone several occasions to see what it was all about. It was nothing like what was written in the Globe. State of the art? Hardly! But you don't go to a restaurant for that, you go for the food.

                                                Terrible food! Terrible service! Don't buy into the hype!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: surferbettygal

                                                  What is so terrible at LTK?? Stick with the fresh grilled fish w/ 2 sides and choice of sauce and its all good.

                                                2. There are surprisingly few places to get good, fresh, simple seafood in the area. Therefore, I previously did not mind paying Legal's high prices. However the service has gone downhill in general, and the last few meals I had there were terrible (overcooked fish, veggies drowned in butter, etc). The Prudential Center location is particularly horrible. The location in Cambridge is (marginally) better, but not good enough to get my $$. About a year ago, we decided that Legal's was voted off the island. I am not ready to give it another try yet.

                                                  1. This is a very local post and I confess pristine shellfish is my addiction. Little Q in Quincy has excellent lobster and/or shrimp in broth. Burke's seafood, also in Quincy has excellent lobsters steamed to go. Well worth any detour. Rocky Neck Fish Co. in East Milton has Nantucket scallops, which are worth every penny of their high price. The season is almost over...

                                                    1. Just so you know. the scallops are $29.95 a pound, so don't be bashful if you ask them to count them out - everyone else does - and it is worth having less to experience the best!!!

                                                      1. I was at the Prudential location this past Saturday 1/27. We came into the city from Western Mass, and arrived at the restaurant late.. My wife and I were straving.. We ordered lots of food, and everything came out just the way we wanted it; except for our filet, we asked for it well done and it came out medium rare. I did not send it back because I knew it was closing time. Service was excellent, friendly, attentive. We were the last guests to leave the restaurant that night, and the server was not rushing us, although I felt bad keeping him there. He recommended we check out Top of the hub for some late night drinks and jazz music, which we did. We truly had a great experience. I guess it could be hit or miss, but this was just one of the highlights of our weekend trip that we won't forget..

                                                        1. well i've yet to go bad at legal. i've had two excellent meals at harvard square and prudential, and one OK meal at the airport. i have tended to order simple dishes highlighting what i hope to be fresh fish. i figure, in that case, that there are only two ways they screw up: serve fish that isn't fresh or overcook it. so far they have done neither.

                                                          1. We love Legal and it is our go- to place for a quick dinner at the bar. Unfortunately, this past Saturday the Legal in Framingham on Route 9 had an 1 1/2 hour wait at 5:30! The bar was packed. Since Chestnut Hill is always packed by 6, we just gave up for that night.

                                                            1. legal can be very inconsistent and it really just depends which one you go to. I am originally from NJ but go to school in boston and have definitely noticed a difference in service and quality between LSF in both states. I find the one in NJ to sometimes be a bit better, although i have had a few very good meals there and a few not so good meals there. Its not the best fish ive ever had (I prefer Atlantic Fish), but for something fast, its not the worst!

                                                              1. Awesome oysters! We went recently to Burlington, yes it's loud but hey, you're in a mall! we had an excellent waitress, I got a great stuffed trout special (with a shrimp/cornbread stuffing) with blood orange hollandaise - we had a great meal - and did I say the oysters were excellent. (PEI and Wellfleet) yummmmy!!!! very fresh.

                                                                1. Yes I have had the wood grilled assoment a few times and the fish is always way over cooked.. I don't order that anymore, because I truly don't enjoy overcooked dry fish..

                                                                  1. I agree that it depends which location you go to. In the past month, i've been to the Prudential Legals twice, and both times were a disappointment. The food was sloppy, luke warm and my salad had no bacon. The waitstaff was huddled around, laughing and being unproductive and distracting. It was all very unprofessional. In stark contrast, I was recently at the Park Square restaurant and my experience was completely different. Service was spot on. Food was great and staff were very professional. It's too bad because in the old days, George and Roger would have never tolerated anything less than perfection. My general opinion of Legal Seafoods is that they have gotten too big, with no ability to maintain consistent controls in their individual restaurants. It's like a huge breach of trust between the consumer and the retailer. It degrades their entire reputation.

                                                                    1. Went to Legal three times (Framingham, Prudential, Chesnut Hill). Each time was very underwhelming - wasn't bad, but so generic that I see no reason to eat there unless someone else pays the bill. Think Generic Corporate Lunch Place.

                                                                      I frequently eat at Framingham Skipjacks and the quality is consistently good and continues to improve. Last time I tried a fusion-style dish that, dare I say, was close to Blue Ginger or Roy's (there's no Roy's in Boston area, though).

                                                                      1. Dined at the Prudential this past Thursday 2/22. Great service, however the food took over an hour to come out, and when it did my steak was well done. This is the second time at this location my steak was not cooked right. Also after waiting an hour I was a bit frustrated!! No manager came by to apologize for this either. If it was not for the great service I would of walked out. I really enjoyed our waiter, and felt bad he had to work in such an enviroment.

                                                                        1. Why do you go to Legal Seafood to order steak? Not to say that their steak shouldn't be ok, but they are known for seafood! Too bad that the Pru location is not good since some of the other locations (Chestnut HIl, Framingham, Logan Airport) are usually quite good.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: emilief

                                                                            it was a surf and turf that I ordered that came with the steak. I admit I would not come to Legals just for steak, but for steak with seafood it should come out right.

                                                                          2. Went again to the Burlington locaton, again excellent oysters and seafood dishes. Shrimp lettuce wrap special (messy but great), our service was excellent but boy oh boy oh boy - we watched the service next to us in disgust!!!! After they were greeted twice with "oh, have I greeted you yet", it was down hill. After they waited too long, two totally different meals came out and the waitress was baffled "you didn't want this?". The customers couldn't wait any longer for what they really wanted and just wanted to go home. This waitress never offered to comp anything - we had to butt in- tell them to call over the mgr. - head of the restaurant should know about that kind of service. He comp'd most of their bill (they had drinks and salads). Only way to improve on such shotty service is to at least let someone know about it.

                                                                            1. regardless of bad experiences for various reasons, can anybody deny that the oysters are incredibly fresh, well stored/served and well priced? i love oysters and legal is our standard go-to place for them. we live right by the aquarium location and find their wine very affordable, love to sit at the bar with oysters and a bottle of wine.

                                                                              i appreciate legal even more when we travel for work, which is most of the time. when we get a craving for oysters (have been in florida for the last couple of months) they arrive dry, fishy smelling and warm and we remind ourselves not to order them down here again.

                                                                              they just have such a tremendous turnover of them at legal, so the freshness is peerless.

                                                                              1. Disappointing meal at the Legal in Logan recently, but what can you expect in an airport, I suppose. For good seafood and similar style dishes, check out FINZ in Salem's Pickering Wharf. Great views, good service and yummy cocktails!