Have a wet and wild night, it’s all legal

3 Hatchets
Legal Seafoods
2020 K St., N.W.
(202) 496-1111
Reservations: A good idea
Attire: casual
Price: $25-30 for an appetizer and entree

Split open a fresh-from-the-oven roll, slurp up a cup of chowder, and slice the tender piece of fish you ordered from the impressive menu at Legal Seafoods. Located just two blocks from campus on 20th and K streets, this restaurant chain surpasses expectations every time. The freshest fish and creative preparations make this place different from the ordinary spots that specialize in seafood. Dim lighting deceives first-timers into thinking it’s a cozy, quiet niche, but equally during lunch and dinner the restaurant comes to life with a cacophony of conversation combined with the hustle and bustle of the open kitchen.

Whether it is hot or cold outside, Legal’s creamy New England clam chowder is a must. Their award-winning soup has been served at every presidential inauguration since 1981. Salads can be ordered as an entr?e and are made with fresh greens and vegetables. Their Caesar salad isn’t much to brag about, as the dressing is unimpressive.

Appetizers are your usual fish starters; crab cakes, calamari, steamers and a raw oyster bar, but the preparation and powerful flavor proves Legal’s seafood is anything but ordinary. I recommend the Thai calamari or the crab cakes if you really want to start the night off right.

Fish is basically the only thing served, with the exception of a sirloin steak and filet mignon. For simple pleasures, a selection of fish like salmon, swordfish and tuna can be ordered wood-grilled, fried or steamed with a marinade of choice. The rest of the large menu consists of delicious and creative dishes that include pastas or combinations of seafood. The stuffed baked shrimp are overstuffed with crabmeat and served with too few vegetables, but the entr?e sized crab cakes are filling.

Most of the entrees come with a choice of a side dish like mashed potatoes, French fries, baked potato or rice. The mashed potatoes could be better if the chef eased up on the pepper. If you decide to go all out and order the steamed lobsters, be sure to visit their website at LegalSeafoods.com and check out the animated video on “How to Eat a Lobster” to avoid embarrassment. The small dessert menu offers Boston cream pie and other goodies, if you have room after the huge main course. Overall, the food is fresh and with few exceptions, it is delicious.

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