Food & dining

quick bite

Legal Crossing is a sleek, modern spinoff of Legal Sea Foods

Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

Where to Legal Crossing, the latest Legal Sea Foods spinoff, located in Downtown Crossing.

What for A semi-Legal experience. The menu remains seafood-focused, but this is more of a sleek, modern nightspot than a family-friendly restaurant.

The scene A hostess in a sparkly outfit greets customers on a busy weeknight. The bar and lounge area at the front of the restaurant is filled with couples, co-workers, women in black, and friends in business casual having post-work tete-a-tetes. Men in suits with mousy mustaches have drinks at cocktail tables; at the amber-lit wood bar, women snack off slate boards and strapping fellows with Boston accents text and eat hunks of tuna. Daft Punk, Albert Hammond Jr., the Strokes, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are on the soundtrack. The restaurant is decorated in glossy black brick with black-and-gray plaid accents; in the dining room, people settle into wood and tufted black leather booths, a tiered pendant casting mellow light on each table.


What you’re eating You will find chowder, crab cakes, and fish, but many of the dishes depart from Legal classics. An oyster trio features three bivalves, each with a different topping: cucumber, melon, and jalapeno sorbet. The crab cake comes with asparagus, pancetta, and mustard hollandaise. Paprika-tinged whole shrimp are served with chickpeas and Chinese sausage; salmon is glazed in hoisin and comes with pad thai-style noodles.

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Care for a drink? The cocktail menu is said to be inspired by the neighborhood. This means stripper and Chinatown references that will amuse some and offend others. You’ll find the Cold Tea (description: “late night tradition, watch your wallet, delicious & fun beer cooler”) and the Glitter & Shame (“nice melons, tasty cocktail, so fresh, so clean”). The Rising Sun, a “post-op gin & tonic,” features yuzu, Aperol, and aloe. It tastes like Japanese gummy candy.

Overheard Conversations about
food, interior decorating, relationships, sports, and childcare. “Did Montreal just score?” a bartender asks a customer. “It’s nice if you’re a fan of soup,” a server tells someone inquiring about a soup. “Is he tall?” a woman asks a friend. She replies, “He’s not big-boned. I think he’s just big.” “Who’s your nanny? How old is she?” one man wants to know. A commercial for Subway’s Flatizza appears on one of the TVs above the bar and everyone laughs: “Is that a real commercial?” “That has so many connotations.” Then food begins to arrive. “I can smell the garlic and butter! That linguini looks so good.” “It’s certainly
different from the usual Legal crab cake. It actually reminds me of Del Frisco’s!” A server brings out an oyster trio. “That looks absolutely delicious,” he says. “That looks absolutely delicious.” He departs, and a man at the bar chuckles. “He said that a lot of times.” “I know!” says the woman beside him. “Did he want one?” When the man leaves, the woman turns to him. “Thank you for amusing me,” she says.

558 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, Boston. 617-692-8888.

Devra First can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.