traveling and meeting other cultures: ideas, destinations, reviews and tips
Legal Sea Foods
Lightbox (14) Tags: restaurants traditional-cuisine tysons-galleria usa virginia Posted: May 28, 2009 by Val
Location of Legal Sea
Foods in Tysons Galleria
Close up on Legal Sea
Doors between outside area
(terrace) and inside
Legal Sea Foods "to go"
Restaurant lobby with
staircase to the upper level
Inside Legal Sea
Another view of
restaurant interior - exit to
the terrace is in the
Legal Sea Foods - bar on
the first floor
Legal Sea Foods - upper
Upper level bar is very
large and offers same
Restrooms are clean
Upper level bar has its own
entrance from the second
floor of Tysons Galleria
Legal Sea Foods restaurants are a chain of more than 30 establishments located in nine states on the Eastern coast of the United States and Washington DC. It's not franchise but a family owned business, and perhaps this is one of the reasons for its success.
The origins of this business can be traced to 1950 when George Berkowitz opened "Legal Sea Foods" fish market in Inman Square (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and 1968 when Legal opened its first restaurant. But many decades of history have not changed the cornerstone of the Legal Sea Foods philosophy according to which its business is not about restaurant selling fish but rather a fish company in the restaurant business.
According of the Legal Sea Foods motto, if it's not fresh, it's not legal. That's why the restaurant chain deals directly with fish boat captains and has created its own HACCP facility (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points - the main platform for international legislation and good manufacturing practices for all sectors of the food industry) to make sure that the whole process of handling the fish is up to the business rigorous standards for freshness and purity.
At various locations there may be some variations in dishes on menus (there are usually six of the them - lunch, dinner, gluten free, children's, dessert and take out menus). But most of them will offer such classic dishes such as Shrimp and Garlic ($19.95 - prices 2009) sautéed with tomato, scallions and mushrooms, tossed with linguini or Mussels ($9.95) 1 1/2 pounds sautéed with garlic, white wine and crushed red pepper. Steamed Lobsters of various sizes are always available at market prices.
Some dishes are more expensive like Wild Salmon ($25.95 - wood Grilled and pan Blackened). If you happened to be at Legal Sea Foods restaurant but do not like like fish, you can try Filet Mignon (8 oz. $27.95) served with horseradish butter, mashed potatoes, roasted onion and snap peas and even 10 oz. Niman Ranch Burger ($10.50 - in lunch menu). For vegetarians there is Vegetarian Box ($17.95) with Asian flavored stir-fried vegetables, Thai red coconut curry sauce, cashews, tofu and brown rice.
For dessert try Cheesecake ($8.50) - surprisingly good for a fish restaurant or Bon Bons (one $1.25 three $3.75 five &5.50 - bite size scoops of ice cream dipped in chocolate) - delicious. There is cappuccino ($3.95) and espresso ($2.95) which not all American restaurants offer.
By the way, I just said American restaurant - yes, Legal Sea Foods offers unmistakably American cuisine and a good one with its focus on value and quality of food. And from this perspective, Legal Sea Foods is one of the places where you can find such cuisine at its best: fresh and quality ingredients, reasonable prices and good value. This also includes a very good and fast service. The chain pledges "to provide prompt, friendly, and courteous service by a knowledgeable and highly trained staff" as well as "to respond in a rapid, sensitive and non-confrontational manner to requests that will enhance your dining experience."
Based on personal experience, I can attest that Legal Sea Foods live to those pledges. And even if you do not find some culinary "delights" like in the best houses of Paris and London, visiting one of Legal Sea Foods restaurants you will find excellent food that you can afford and enjoy.
One of the areas where I feel the chain management can improve is the wine list. Despite the pledge "to feature a wine list that represents the best overall value in America," I do not feel that this pledge has been fulfilled. Even if a blind wine tasting is practice (as it follows from the information I have from the company), the selection is satisfactory neither by overall lines of taste of wines nor by their prices. Or, perhaps, what is good for the company Master of Wine is not good for consumers like me?
With 30 restaurant locations, their layouts will be inevitably different. However, the decor, and amenities are hopefully the same or close to what you can find in the Legal Sea Foods in Tysons Galleria II (an upscale mall in Northern Virginia). On both sides of this page, there is a small photo gallery that should give you an idea about the ambient. Or, even better, just come and see for yourself - you will not regret. Recommended.
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