By Kacy Emmett — Photographed by Jazz Martin
Sitting at the bar at Legal Crossing, it’s apparent I’m underdressed.
I’m in a gray t-shirt dress – an outfit that neither flatters nor fits. In fact, it doesn’t befit any occasion other than bedtime. Keeping my eyes peeled for the Legal Sea Foods’ marketing director becomes murky in a sea of stilettos and suits. Everyone looks like an executive. Thanks to the undertones of my adult pajamas, I blend in with the dark backdrop of tiles and low lighting. I make a note to invest in a sensible blazer and search the crowd for my table.
Since 1968, Legal’s local roots have run deep, boasting six concept restaurants in the Boston area alone. The local fish market has since grown under the Berkowitz family’s guidance into a commendable series of restaurants along the eastern seaboard known for quality and service. Whether you’re taking in the hum of 747’s across the water at Legal Harborside or posting up at Legal Oysteria in Charlestown, even the saltiest of New Englanders find solace in that legendary cup of chowder.
Earlier this year, the company introduced Legal Crossing, another star in its constellation of budding outposts. What once was a parking lot in downtown is now a center for post-work drinks, backlit by the Boston Opera House. The menu strays into Asian inspired plates, borrowing from nearby Chinatown with dishes like tempura skewered mussels and bang bang cauliflower. With residential high rises and commercial real estate popping up throughout downtown, the restaurant’s coordinates are an opportune venture.
Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, hitting the theater, or just trying to get through a tense Tinder date – Legal Crossing (LX) delivers. In my case, two tables have been kindly set up by LX manager, Nicholas Moniz. Catching the tail end of the seasonal summer menu, my culinary curiosity is piqued for what Chef Jackson Wu has on deck. I’m more of the defrosting type of girl myself – the Easy Bake and I go way back. However, in Chef Wu I see the person I long to be – talented, calm and clever with a cod. A Massachusetts native, Wu takes New England favorites and serves them with a twist. A proud papa of closely curated platters, he proves to be a gracious coach throughout my culinary triathalon.
“Are you hungry?” Wu asks.
“Are you kidding?” I reply.
Ready. Set. Salivate.
Round One: Starters
Lobster soup – Oyster trio – Tempura skewered mussels
First up was Lobster Soup. Like so many dishes at LX, the presentation is interactive. I slurp my way through a rich sherry moat surrounding the puff pastry centerpiece. Strong start, Wu, strong start.
Next slid out the LX answer to Beyonce’s cigars on ice: Freshly Shucked Oyster Trio on ice. Unless I’m chasing with vodka, the texture of oysters usually gets me. Do I chew? Swallow? My characteristic squirminess eventually subsides given dollops of jalapeno, cucumber, and melon sorbet floating on top of each bivalve. RIP oysters, you were a delicious palette of pastel.
Round Two: Entree
Butter poached lobster
Hoisin glazed salmon
Linguini with trio of clams
A party of one, this feast for two was only beginning. I didn’t wear an open-air tent for nothing. Butter Poached Lobster was up first, the most theatrical of all. Adorned with corn foam, the lobster is eye catching and according to Wu, a twist on the classic New England Clam Bake. The lobster was perfectly buttered and the chorizo and potato pieces added notable texture and spice. Lobster with a foam toupee might just be setting new New England standards.
Hoisin Glazed Salmon is LX’s most popular entrée and for good reason. The glaze is sweet and smooth, a nod to the menu’s Asian inspiration. Set on a bed of Pad Thai noodles and seared veggies, this salmon actually put itself on a pedestal.
As we geared up for the final entrée, the bar around us started to buzz. Linguine with Trio of Clams: the presentation is cleaner than traditional dishes. A delicate ring of clams containing the Cambridge-sourced linguine curls and subtle pops of polenta pay homage to the dish’s Italian genes.
Round Three: Dessert
or, the End of My Coherence.
Adult Profiteroles – Campfire S’mores
My moral compass is askew. How can I justify dessert after all of this gluttony? I guess at this rate if gout hasn’t caught me, nothing will.
The profiteroles are “adult” because like any good dessert, you must be 21 to ride. In the Bay State it’s hard enough to get a beer without getting frisked, but at LX a valid ID will do. This boozy nightcap has bourbon infused ice cream wedged between two consenting cream puffs. At this point, my usual wine lip had retired to chocolate and the familiar smell of campfire approached. The Campfire S’more, homemade marshmallow smothering a valrhona chocolate, cranberry, pistachio and graham cracker body, promises nostalgia minus the hassle of sticky fingers.
At 10 PM the LX kitchen is gearing up for their Late Night menu, which at this point seems like a cruel tease. So, with a bourbon buzz and belly full, it was time to head home. I look forward to returning to LX for round two, just as soon as I figure out how to stand up.
I’d like to thank Ida Faber, Nicholas Moniz, Jackson Wu and the Legal Crossing staff for letting us stuff ourselves for the purpose of this article.