Although the neighborhood was bustling, the restaurant had a serene atmosphere, which was nice after a long day of sightseeing and facing a cold, blustery day. Eager for the rare opportunity to enjoy the delicacy of seafood, I settled in to enjoy my experience.
My waitress was really friendly and eager to help me navigate the menu to find dishes that would be safe. Legal marks all of their menus with a symbol to indicate dishes that are, or can be made to be gluten-free. Options range from fried favorites (fish and chips or shrimp), appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, and even desserts. Dairy is a complicating factor, but I still had plenty of options to consider (I meant to, but forgot to ask about the frying batter). My waitress made sure to double check with the kitchen that dishes would be safe on both accounts.
After consideration, I decided upon one of Legal's "classic" dishes; the snapper salsa verde. As I waited for the kitchen to work its magic, I read over the paper placemat on my table, and was amazed to see that Legal featured the introduction of their gluten-free menu in 2005 on their timeline of notable milestones in the restaurant's history. How many restaurants not only have a safe gluten-free menu and protocol but actively are proud of that fact? Not many!
When my dish was ready, the manager himself brought it out to me, per the protocol. It was arraigned in a stunningly beautiful way, and the waitress even commented about how amazing it was. Atop a bed of jasmine rice sat two filets of snapper, seasoned perfectly and ultra tender, slicing easily with only a fork. Surrounding the center, is a ring of lump crab meat swimming in a sea of salsa verde. I loved the cool creaminess of the salsa verde, which added flavor without being too overwhelming and the portioning of crab was just enough to satisfy. The entire plate was a sizable portion, and definitely left me satisfied.
Overall I had a great diner at Legal Sea Foods. I am definitely putting this restaurant on my go-to list wherever I travel because there are several locations of this chain across the northeast and mid-Atlantic (and even in the south in Atlanta). I enjoyed the atmosphere, which was relaxing after a long day, and my waitress was truly excellent in handling my many gluten-free questions.
My only complaint was that there was a mix-up of sorts about whether or not the enchilada sauce (drizzled as a decorative touch on the plate) was dairy-free. After informing me that it was not, my plate emerged with it drizzled on there. I pointed it out to the manager, who promptly took the dish back to the kitchen to remake it, and when he came back a second time, the sauce was indeed removed. Turns out that the sauce is dairy free, but he wanted to remake the dish to assure me that it was truly safe. I appreciated his immediate action and willingness to remedy the situation, but it was a reminder to remain vigilant and be proactive when dining out.
Update 9/14/16: On a second visit to Legal Sea Foods in Tysons Corner, VA, I was able to confirm that the gluten-free fried items on the menu are not dairy-free because the batter uses milk as a binder. I ordered the pan seared scallops with spinach and loved the amazing grill flavor and the garlicky goodness of the spinach. The rice was cooked to a perfect texture and the whole meal was really good. The staff were attentive and really went over and above to accommodate my dietary needs.
Address: 704 7th Street NW, Washington D.C., 20004
Cuisine: Seafood, American
Ideal For: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Price: See menu prices on the restaurant's page, click here.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
Special Feature: Make reservations in advance on Open Table, just click here.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessibleSpecial Feature: Make reservations in advance on Open Table, just click here.