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Oct 29, 2007 09:15 AM

Legal's Test Kitchen Any Good??

Hi All,

I'm a native Bostonian who is now a DC Hound. I'll be in town for Thanksgiving weekend with my boyfriend and thought about touring around to some of the museum's Saturday. For dinner I thought we might stop by Legal's Test Kitchen since I've never been but my parents seem to like it.

Any thought on this restaurant? Particular dishes that are excellent? Also is it within walking distance to the T...which is really what will determine whether or not we eat there.


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  1. IMO it's terribly overrated. I'd absolutely suggest going somewhere else. Like Neptune in the North End.

    The food is mediocre at best, though the bar is lively. The menu is very strange, with things like pulled pork sandwiches on it.

    It's near the silver line T but not the regular subway system.

    8 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      It's hard for the place to be "terribly overrated" given that it's universally panned on this board.

      1. re: Blumie

        There are people other than C-Hounds out there.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          Yeah, but we're in here! And unless I'm missing something (entirely possible), I don't see that it's particularly well regarded out there either.

          BTW, I think your Neptune rec is spot on.

      2. re: C. Hamster

        The menu is strange?? Well, if you want a strange menu, then go to Neptune. (cod with ham hocks and split peas, other fish with strange ingredients). I'm just saying. . . . not that the food is not good but to complain that a pulled pork sandwich is strange and recommend Neptune seems odd to me. Depending on the age of the parents, they might not find Neptune's menu to their liking. That said, I liked Neptune's fried clams, seafood stew and the oysters are delicious.
        Of course it is byob (bring your own bread).

        1. re: emilief

          What I meant was don't go there expecting it to be an actual "test kitchen" for their fish restaurants because much of the menu wouldn't be served there. Like exhibit A: pulled pork sandwiches.

          Fish with paired with odd ingredients is not weird to me; it's intriguing.

          I am under the assumption that Elyssa's parents will not be with them, so whether Neptune's menu agrees with them seems irrelevant. But maybe I read her post incorrectly.

          1. re: emilief

            My parents are late-50s and eat at all the best restaurants in Boston-new, old, hip, trendy, sedate, or otherwise. They are well fed and have traveled all over the world trying different types of cuisines, so I usually trust their opinion. But perhaps the Hounds aren't as big of fan of the Test Kitchen as they are...which is ok. I actually like Legal's for the record.

            The parents aren't coming along anyway.

            I considered Neptune but we did the North End the last time we were in town this past summer and I thought I would show my bf other parts of Boston, especially since we are planning on going to the Contemporary Art Museum.

            1. re: Elyssa

              The options near the CIA are not great. Sel de la Terre, a board favorite, is a pretty easy walk, and the North End is not much further. And, as I suspect you know, Boston is a small enough city that most neighborhoods are easy to get to.

              My favorite seafood place in the city is B&G Oyster, in the South End. Although many on this board disagree with me, I prefer it to Neptune.

          2. re: C. Hamster

            I agree with Hamster. My wife's entree was average, but the side potatoes were undercooked. My tuna burger was tasty, but the side of slaw was skimpy and the sides were warm (warm pickles?) felt like they had been sunning under the heat lamp far longer than they should have been.

            All entrees were served at different times, the experience was a a little discombobulated. You would do better off eating next door. The bar scene was hopping though.

          3. Based on going there once, I think it's absolutely fine if you're at the new ICA and you get hungry. (Maybe there's something wrong with my taste buds, but I have never really understood the Legal hate on this board, though I do find their service very weird.)

            I would not go out of my way for it, though.

            5 Replies
            1. re: BostonCookieMonster

              I agree, cookie. And for your entertainment, there's been some Legal Love going on on the Lobster Brunch thread:

              1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                I'm not a Legal hater, for the most part. I just don't think the food at LTK is as good as it is at their other restaurants.

                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                  We were planning on going to the ICA...that's why this was being considered. Not sure if there are other places around there that might be better.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    Plenty of better things close to the ICA, including Eatern Pier (Americanized Chinese food--their fish filet chow fun is good), Lucky's (great sliders and okay pizza) and the Yankee Lobster Pot (great fried seafood). Go to LTK for high prices, mediocre food and loads of attitude from the hostess.

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Like many others we have also had mixed results at LTK, although most of our problems have been with the service not the food. The clam pizza is a problem; mine was served in a concave dish so a lot of the filling had slipped to the middle.

                      Salvatore's iis a fairly new restaurant in the same building as LTK. We have only tried appetizers while sitting a the bar but they were fine. Also Mortons is opening a new restaurant (Nov.2) in an office building one block closer to the ICA. The bar at the Seaport hotel could be a comfortable place to eat and they have a lower price bar menu - nice views of the fishing boats.

                  2. I've been there several times because a friend works in an office building across the street. It's hit or miss. The mojitos are the best. They rotate flavors such as watermelon and blackberry. There's a shrimp and chicken wok that I love. Last week I ordered the white clam pizza. It was soggy and horrible. Our server saw that I had barely touched it and inquired why. I was honest about it and he asked if I wanted something else. At that point I wasn't hungry anymore after eating their warm french rolls and some of my friend's delicious calamari. A few weeks ago I got the pizza margherita. It was excellent. A thin crisp crust with very fresh toppings. I was hoping the clam pizza would be similar in quality. The burgers look good, but I haven't tried one yet. When we got the check, he'd taken the clam pizza off of it and was very apologetic that I hadn't enjoyed it. Overall, the service has always been good and attentive.

                    3 Replies
                    1. We went to lunch there after visiting The ICA. The wait for appetizers was appauling -- the server may have forgotten to place the order- the calamari & clam pizza appetizers just as our lunch arrived. The appetizers were almost inedible. Very geasy calamari and the clam pizza was fishy and stale tasting.
                      I had the fish tacos - not much to comment on. The Bloody Mary came out in a timely fashion and was very good. They also have no form of children's menu or items -- so just don't bring a kid. The service was slow, the food not great and it was quite expensive. I wish there were other options. Or that LTK raises their bar of quality food & service.

                      1. re: catsmeow

                        They have GREAT gazpacho. Meals are hit or miss. I would be tempted to order the gazpacho as an appetizer and the clam chowder as a main course. Desserts are mediocre to not-so-good.

                        1. re: Pia

                          I am not at all in the Legal-hating camp; I am sort of ambivalent about Legal; though it's not a spot I frequent, I think some of the food there is perfectly respectable and I think it's certainly possible to get a good meal there. That being said, I tried LTK once this summer and had a fairly unimpressive experience. Our waiter told me the fried fish sandwich was "one of the best in Boston.." it was mediocre at best and certainly not memorable. I don't remember what my DC got but I do remember her opinion being somewhat similar. Was it horrible? No. Would I go back? No. There are too many other great places in Boston to try, IMO.... Of course, if you're in the area and you're hungry, and you're looking for somewhere to eat, sure, it might serve the purpose. Just don't go expecting anything amazing, it was really just ok...and certainly not a "destination spot." Another place to consider is Salvatore's --right in that same area...Italian...caveat: I have not been, but I've read some pretty good things about it and a few 'hounds have had good things to that might be an option for you as well. Good luck.

                      2. yes, please skip. I was really grossed out by it. we'll help you find another place...

                        1. All I can say is that LTK serves it purpose in the newest part of southie, offering a pleasant place to meet for a drink in a very barren part of southie - Salvatore's is next door and they have a "quieter" bar - a great place to have a quite man's drink or two and watch sports on the huge flat screens w/o loud massholes. My wife and I live in the complex and often find its just easier to head downstairs for a drink, some edimame and grilled fish than to try and cook at home - since trips to the grocery are quite a time commitment. At LTK, I recommend staying away from all of the "sauced" items... they all taste the same w/the addition of the ethnic master spice added to the base sauce (truly, I believe LTK uses the same sauce base for each dish) - plus these dishes are usually over sauced and heavy/thick tasting in the mouth. Its also hard to believe that the oysters are not better since we are across the street from the Boston Fish Pier - like everyother posting, if you want shellfish go to Neptune or B&G - back to LTK, stay with the grilled fish, request a light EVO basting. If you want a great salad - go to Salvatore's - both their salad offerings are excellent and large enough to share. Both have decent wine lists by the glass.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: imthedecidah

                            It sounds like the purpose it serves is that, if you happen to be in the area (or live upstairs),you can get a tolerable meal if you navigate the menu well. But I think we all can agree that it's not worth seeking out otherwise.