What to Order at Legal Crossing

By Scott Kearnan  |  March 13, 2014

Legal Crossing (LX), a distinctly upscale concept from Legal Sea Foods, opens in Downtown Crossing's tony Millennium Place development today; dinner service starts at 5 PM. Yesterday we gave you an advance glimpse at the full menus for LX, but you know the old saying: food porn is worth a thousand words. (Okay, so we took a little liberty with the expression.)

"The location dictated what we wanted to do," says Rich Vellante, Legal Sea Foods' executive chef and executive VP of restaurants. "This is a more sophisticated urban setting, so we approached it in a way that is more sophisticated than we might a traditional Legal Sea Foods." And Vellante says the culinary team was excited for that opportunity to "spread its wings" and show its full breadth of "talent and creativity." He explains: "Sometimes that gets lost when our main strategy and focus is consistency and brand content. At Legal Crossing, even the kitchen is designed differently than one at a traditional Legal Sea Foods, where things are geared toward a higher volume. With that comes different techniques and more composed dishes."

And you can expect the team to be exploring additional approaches soon. Next up: Legal Oysteria, an Italian seafood concept slated to open this spring in the Charlestown space that formerly belonged to Todd English's Olives. Vellante says that a fellow Italian-American chef, longtime Legal toque Gina Palmacci (a former Aquitaine sous), will helm a kitchen that makes use of an existing rotisserie and brick oven. "We're looking to leverage that," says Vellante, who expects a lot of "simple Mediterranean flavors inspired by the coastal villages of Italy," with some nods to Portugal, Spain, and Southern France on the agenda. (Think whole fish, octopus and squid dishes.) Until then, we'll satisfy ourselves with LX, the brand's latest one-off. And here's where to start.

  • Oyster Trio

    "We wanted to stretch the oyster offerings," says Vellante. The menu features them baked with spinach and cheese, slow-grilled with a butter and Parmesan base, and fried with pickled relish and BBQ aioli. Even the simple, freshly-shucked approach gets spruced with this trio ($9), which will feature three different, seasonally rotating sides of sorbet; right now cucumber, roasted melon, and jalapeno are the tasty picks.

  • Credit: Vincent DeWitt

    Crab Cake

    The menu at LX is a mix of new items and "tried but true classics given twists." Among the latter is this signature shareable crab cake ($16) with mustard hollandaise, available on both the lunch and dinner menus, given an LX upgrade with the addition of asparagus, pancetta and egg.

  • Butter-Poached Lobster

    This big (1.5 to 1.75-pound) red beast is designed to evoke "the flavors of a lobster bake," says Vellante. It's cooked slowly in butter and sits in a corn chowder-style broth with mussels, chorizo and fingerling potatoes. And it's topped with a crest of foam, a nod to the more sophisticated techniques LX looks to employ.

  • Korean Rice Bowl

    Vellante says that LX wanted to place plenty of emphasis on its lunch offerings for the local workforce. He's particularly proud of this Korean Rice Bowl of pickled veggies, shiitake, wakame, jasmine rice and egg yolk that can be topped with shrimp ($16), tuna sashimi ($16) or organic tofu ($13). The LX menu actually contains quite a few pan-Asian flourishes, like tempura skewered mussels with spiced yogurt dip and paprika shrimp with Chinese sausage, which Vellante says are largely inspired by the proximity to Chinatown.

  • Halibut Crab Imperial

    It's a feast fit for a king. For the Halibut Crab Imperial ($34), a thick piece of halibut steak receives a layer of mustard, then a coating of seasoned crab with mayo. It's served with creamed spinach and topped with a radish and tomato salad. "It's colorful, flavorful and rich. Everything you want in a dish like this."