Legal Crossing transcends chain bar fare. / Gustav Hoiland
While you won't find me celebrating the opening of many chain restaurants in this space, in the case of Legal Seafood's new Legal Crossing, or LX for short, (which is how you know it's cool), I'll make an exception. That's mostly because the company has done a good job of introducing populist demographics to progressive drinking concepts over the years. Much of that credit goes to longtime Boston bar staple Patrick Sullivan, the company's executive director of bar operations.
The new spot “looks a little different, feels different, and acts a little different than a Legal Sea Foods for sure,” Sullivan says of the bar, open til two, 7 nights a week. You might not know you'd wandered into a Legals if you weren't paying attention at the bar here. Directly across from the Paramount Theater, which casts twinkling lights in the reflection of the gleaming surface inside, it has the vaguely sophisticated feel of an upscale Downtown Crossing-style bar; it feels like drinking inside of an oversized humidor.
Better still for my purposes, the bartenders seem exceptionally enthusiastic about the cocktail menu, always a good sign. Too many bars with money get someone to write up a list then abandon it to under-trained staff. Here they're singing the praises of their tiki-themed, down and stirred, and cheeky neighborhood inspired cocktails.
With many of the drinks you'll have to ask about the specific ingredients before ordering. “Cold tea late night tradition. watch your wallet. delicious & fun beer cooler” reads one that's a nod to the old Chinatown tradition, (made with Allagash White, Deep Eddy sweet tea, Meletti amaro, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, lemon and sugar and served in a stainless steel tea pot.) That drink, like many of the others, wink at the old Combat Zone era and some of its historic tiki bars, like the Bob Lee's Islander (made with Plantation Original Dark Rum, Plantation 3 Star Rum, demerara Syrup, lime, grapefruit and Allspice Dram.)
“It's more like a drinking bar menu than a restaurant bar menu,” Sullivan says of a list that incorporates a Chartreuse Swizzle and a crushed ice mezcal cocktail. “It's funny, one of the first weekends our top selling drink in this restaurant was a stirred down rye and amaro cocktail.” That would be the Blackball, made with Templeton rye, Averna, and orange bitters. “That is very strange.”
There's no secret to the way he's always written menus, Sullivan says. It's about trying to engender a fun interaction for the guests. “Certainly drinking is supposed to be fun, sometimes it can get a little too serious for my liking, so I've purposefully built things into menu that are tongue-in-cheek to get the guests to react in some way, ask a question, make a joke. Once the guests start doing that, the door opens for hospitality.”
If you go Legal Crossing 558 Washington St., Boston 617.692.8888 www.legalcrossing-boston.com