Legal Sea Foods is a casual restaurant with an upscale feel. Their slogan is: “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal.” They boast that they are “fanatics for freshness” and they prove their dedication to this every step of the way. It is reflected in not only the taste of their food, but the numerous awards they have won.
Currently there are 35 locations and they are only found on the East Coast. For those who do not have a location near them, food can be ordered online for delivery in the continental United States. After all, the family always felt that they are “a fish company in the restaurant business.”
In 1950, George Berkowitz opened a fish market across from his father’s grocery store, Legal Cash Market, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At first it was only carry-out, but in 1968 he opened a restaurant next to the market. Customers sat at picnic tables and food was served on paper plates. Although the menu was simple – with items such as fish and chips – the quality of their food spread quickly through word-of-mouth.
He moved the restaurant to a more traditional location in Chestnut Hill in 1975. After that location was destroyed by a fire, George and his sons, Marc and Roger, opened what would be their flagship restaurant in the Boston Theater District. Six years later, a new tradition was born. They provided their New England Clam Chowder at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in 1980, and have been a part of every Presidential Inauguration since.
They established their first quality control center in 1981, and this would come to define them. Their innovation with their fish processing plant and food safety laboratory lead the way in standards. Their standards are so strict that they can trace a fish served to a customer back to the water it was caught in. They teamed up with the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 to create the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) seafood inspection program.
Roger became CEO in 1992. He was the spokesman and received numerous awards in the following years. In 1994, he and his father received the Silver Spoon Award. In 1988, the restaurant was named of the Top Ten Tried and True restaurants in America. They named Rich Vellante the Executive Chef in 1998 and they were awarded with the Silver Plate the industry’s highest honor in 1999.
The items offered at Legal Sea Foods highlight their commitment to quality. They have appetizers, chowders, and salads, but the New England Clam Chowder is a must. Their Legal Classics menu presents popular items such as Legal’s Signature Crab Cakes and the Seafood Casserole. There are chicken and steak dishes available without seafood. Most of the basic menu options are under $30, and the specialty items are based on market value. The largest lobster selection is around $55.
Sides are ordered separately, and the house sides have items such as seaweed salad and jasmine rice for under $5 each. The premium sides, for less than $7, offer items like quinoa vegetable salad or grilled asparagus. Separate menus are offered for lunch and for dinner, and they also serve dessert. They do have a children’s menu as well, as well as gluten-free items. Take-out is available.
Their locations are not copies of each other – they prefer “group” as opposed to “chain.” Each has their own charm. They have bars and some locations have outside seating. Most offer private dining for special occasions or corporate events where the menu can be customized.
The quality of the food served is the most impressionable. Customers can dine at Legal Sea Foods with confidence that their meal is fresh and that it passed the most stringent requirements before landing on their plate. That kind of assurance, especially when it comes to seafood, cannot be topped.