Legal Sea Foods
2020 K St. N.W.
M-Th. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
F. 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday 4 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
George Clooney and HBO are trying to tell all of America that K Street is a place of power. From lobbyists to consultants, this isn’t only the place to work, but also the place to power-lunch. One of the ideal locales for such a lunch is Legal Sea Foods.
Originally started in Massachusetts, Legal Sea Foods now operates 26 locations throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, D.C., Virginia and all the way down south in Florida. Why can’t a person in Ohio or Nevada enjoy the restaurant like the rest of us? Because Legal Sea Foods is committed to bringing the freshest seafood to its diners, which means it does the fishing and shipping as well as the serving. The company handles every step involved in making its meals in order to bring the freshest, best-quality seafood to its customers.
So how does a family-started restaurant make it with the fast pace and dirty politics of D.C.? Simple enough. District residents and politicos appreciate the good service, comprehensive wine list and fine food. But what really sets Legal Sea Foods apart from other surf restaurants is its extensive menu. The wide variety of entrees features an even wider variety of fish.
And the fish isn’t only on your plate – the marine theme permeates the restaurant. From the wood paneled walls to the nautical artwork, you might feel like you are dining on a yacht, minus that pervasive fishy smell.
Before you jump into a plate of fresh fish, start with an appetizer. Legal offers a raw bar in addition to its standard appetizer menu, but the establishment is known for its clam chowder. It offers two kinds, New England and Rhode Island Red. Pass over the Rhode Island Red in favor of a more presidential choice – the menu boasts that the New England clam chowder has been served at the last six presidential inaugurations.
If chowder isn’t your thing, try the hot lump crab dip, which has a subtle hint of horseradish, or a single Maryland-style lump crab cake for $13 (or get the crab cake and grilled shrimp combo meal for $24). For $8 the smoked bluefish pate is a good choice, but don’t order it if you don’t like that extra fishy taste, because this fish is anything but faint.
For your entr?e, the restaurant serves many features and combination platters to satisfy any craving, and Legal gives you better quality at better prices than its competitors.
For all of you GW students who escaped to London last semester, there are fried fish and chips waiting for you for only $11 that will bring back your old Brit memories. But you may find that you like Legal’s version better. They use quality fresh fish that those hole-in-the-wall pubs most likely don’t. It also comes with a side of coleslaw, which you just can’t get on the other side of the pond. As with the seafood, the slaw is a cut above, made from only the freshest ingredients to ensure crispness.
One of the most surprisingly delicious entrees is the double-stuffed baked shrimp. This Legal classic let’s you try that crab cake you are craving and the shrimp you always order as a safety. It’s also a good choice if you aren’t much of a fish fan. Not convinced? Picture a large piece of flattened shrimp stuffed on top with buttery crabmeat and lying atop a small mound of crab cake. Now picture four or five of these on your plate next to a little tub of melted butter, steamed broccoli and a side dish of your choice. There, now you’re salivating. The $20 or $25 you spend will be well worth it.
For the health nuts out there, the wood-grilled fresh fish is the answer. The salmon fillet, rainbow trout, tuna, artic char and bluefish are grilled with the glaze of your choice and are accompanied with two sides dishes for only $13 to $22. The grilling, with or without a glaze, brings out each fish’s distinct taste. But as good as the fish is, only choose it if you aren’t brave enough to order the lobster.
The wine and drink menu is extremely large as well. The best “girly” drink on the menu is the pink blossom, a sweet but not too tangy mix of fruit juice and rum. Most notable, though, are the tasters. When you order a taster of port or wine, your server brings you three small wine glasses, each with a different wine to taste and its accompanying description. This is a delicious, inexpensive way to try new wines – each taster set costs $8-$14. The novice and wine connoisseur, alike, can easily appreciate each taster set.
For a night out with your parents, a first date or just a scrumptious dinner away from J Street, Legal Sea Foods is the place to go. You could call for reservations, but there always seems to be an open table. Your meal will cost you a pretty penny, but you’ll feel part of the Washington power elite as you slap down the plastic.
This article appeared in the October 6, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.