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THE TIP

Legal, with water views

Legal Harborside offers multi-level dining, and a top floor with retractable roof and walls. Legal Harborside offers multi-level dining, and a top floor with retractable roof and walls. (Jessey Dearing for The Boston Globe)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / July 8, 2011

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LEGAL HARBORSIDE 270 Northern Ave., Liberty Wharf, Boston

617-477-2900

www.legalseafoods.com

Legal dominates the local seafood scene, and now it dominates the local waterfront, with a three-story, 20,000-square-foot flagship in the Seaport District. Legal Harborside has opened in stages over the past few months. First came the first floor, boisterous and casual, with an oyster bar and a market. Next, the second floor, for more formal dining. And then, just in time for the Fourth of July, the third floor, a bar and lounge with retractable roof and walls.

The first floor offers classics including chowder, steamers, fried clams, and a variety of oysters. A section of the menu is titled “Ode to Inman Square,’’ where Legal began. It encompasses baked scrod, lobster rolls, Portuguese seafood stew, and more. Grilled dishes, sandwiches, pasta, and pizza round out the menu.

The kitchen gets more ambitious with second-floor fare. Here, there are foams, gastriques, and international influences. Small bites range from steamed cockles with chorizo, black beans, and cilantro to uni toast with lardo, sea salt, and mostarda di frutta. An appetizer of tempura softshell crab is served with grits, white asparagus, and squid ink vinaigrette. For a new take on surf and turf, try crispy pig’s head and fried clams with sauce ravigote. Diners will find main dishes such as onaga, a kind of snapper, with smoky eggplant puree and tomato-ginger chutney; butter-poached lobster with corn, mussels, potatoes, and chorizo; and filet mignon with Alaskan king crab, seasonal vegetables, and mashed potatoes.

The third floor offers light bites such as shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, and lobster rolls, but it’s really more about liquids up there. Some cocktails - sangria, margaritas - are available by the glass, half-pitcher, or pitcher. You’ll also find Moscow Mules, Bellinis, and more, as well as beer and wine.

What all of the floors have in common is the beautiful view. Seafood by the water is a quintessential New England experience. Legal Harborside offers three different ways to enjoy it.

DEVRA FIRST

Devra First can be reached at dfirst@globe.com.

Ratings

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