4304 Palisades Center Drive
Palisades Center Mall
West Nyack, NY 10994

I didn’t think I’d be reviewing a chain quite so soon after my foray into the genre with P.F. Chang’s, but Bro and I were shopping at Woodbury Commons and were hungry on ye olde trippe home. Passing Palisades Mall is usually preferable to shopping there, but as it happens, that’s one of the homes of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant clan.

I had first been to Legal on a trip to Boston with my ex-girlfriend and since then I’d been waiting for one to open in the Big Apple. Alas, it never happened, and Legal has apparently resigned itself to be mall-o-centric. Although disappointing, I guess that it’s their choice. But did they have to pick that mall? Ugh. Huge though it may be, it’s probably the least attractive mall in the whole NY area. Anyway.

We went on a Sunday, so Bro and I were able to get a table right away. The paper placemats that tell “The Legal Legend” and explain “The Legal Difference”, with a great big timeline of the history of the chain (“The Legal Time Wave”) presume a cheapness that immediately gets quashed once you open the menu and read the cost of each dish, which hover around $25 per entrée. At least the warm rolls were free.

Since my trademark smart-assed sarcasm was blatantly present with my tirade against crazy-crap-on-the-walls restaurants in the P.F. Chang’s review, I feel it necessary to mention the Legal Sea Foods decorations. Legal’s walls were hardly blank, but there was at least some uniformity. Prints of ships, sea charts, large models of schooners and whalers, and mounted marlins were ever present. This is far removed and far more classy that the Red Lobster décor of lobster traps, nets everywhere, buoys, boats, and life preservers stuffed into every blank spot of wall space, leaving no nook or cranny free from clutter. And I like Red Lobster, blasphemous though some foodies may tell me that is.

But talk to me not of blasphemy, man. I’d eat the sun if it tempted me.

In fact, Legal’s décor is busier but classier than that of the City Crab & Seafood Company, which welcomes patrons with a massive fake crab hanging from the ceiling… though City Crab has a raw bar. And that’s hard to beat.

To start, Bro and I opted for bowls of soup. Bro chose a New England Clam Chowder. If a seafood place can’t get the clam chowder right, it probably can’t get much else right, either. But they got it right, though I would have preferred less potato. Thick and chunky and smooth, but not pasty and gloppy. I got a Lobster Bisque. Large chunks of lobster came in the dry bowl and the waiter poured the bisque over the lobster. Some fresh cracked pepper later and I wasn’t cold inside anymore. It was delicious, but I thought I wee bit thin.

Bro’s entrée was the Red Onion Jam Swordfish, a swordfish steak served under a glazing of red onion with a rice pilaf, sautéed sherry mushrooms and spinach. The swordfish itself was very good, as was the spinach, but the rice pilaf was a bit dry and the mushrooms were undercooked by a few minutes. That may seem minor, but it was a noticeable taste. My entrée was the Nutty Wild Salmon, a salmon fillet under a lemon caper butter sauce and topped with shredded almonds. This was excellent. It came with a side of spinach, which was a tad salty, and was supposed to come with a side of mushroom ravioli. Unfortunately, they were out of the mushroom ravioli and substituted butternut squash. It was good, but disappointing when compared with the salmon.

Legal’s dessert selection was pretty standard stuff, with cheesecake, key lime pie, chocolate cake, ice cream, etc., but Bro and I weren’t feeling in the dessert mood and stuck to just having some coffees. Normally, your coffees arrive with a variety of pastel-bagged sweeteners. This time, when Bro asked for sugar, four packets, all lonely, came delivered on their own plate, as if rationed. As if one of Jerry’s V1s hit a supply train. Bro said he almost felt guilty only using two and leaving the remaining two with even fewer sugar packet friends to talk to.

Our two appetizers, two entrees, two sodas and two coffees, no dessert, cost us $96 including tax and tip.

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