By DON FOWLER
Joyce and I decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve on Saturday night to avoid the overcrowded restaurants.
We chose Garden City’s latest addition to fine dining, Legal Sea Bar.
We have a long history with “Legal,” having traveled to Boston in our younger years for their fresh (“If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal”) seafood, in addition to enjoying their Warwick site in later years.
The new establishment, at 175 Hillside Road, at the far end of the Garden City complex shines brightly and invitingly on a cold winter’s evening.
We arrived early (5:00 p.m.) and found two seats at the bar. By the time we left, an hour and a half later, most of the seats in the large restaurant were filled.
The restaurant has a number of booths for more private dining, in addition to long tables for larger groups or overflows.
Wanting to experience the essence of the place, we chose the bar, where most of our neighbors were enjoying a drink and appetizers. Eating at the Sea Bar, which is set with place mats, is the “in” thing to do. TV’s are on, but the sound isn’t. In spite of the large crowd and busy conversations, the sound level is quite comfortable.
We immediately fell in love with our bartender, Lauren, who mixed the perfect Black Russian for Joyce and brought me a cold ‘Gansett.
Like its predecessor, and other comparable seafood restaurants, many meals can be on the expensive side. Beer battered fish and chips will run you $20.95, and their signature crab cake combo (a jumbo lump crab cake, grilled shrimp and scallops with a salad) tops the menu at $31.95.
We chose to start and end with three “Starters”.
First was their Hot Lump Crab Dip ($13.95), a huge serving of a steaming dish of crab, horseradish, cheddar and cream cheese with seafood chips.
Next were three Rhode Island stuffies ($11.95), tender baked stuffed clams with the right amount of herbs and Romano.
The big winner was a huge dish of Mussels Fra Diavolo in a spicy marinara sauce with crostini (toast), by far the most tender and delicious mussels we have ever had and a bargain at $14.95. . . almost a meal for two.
The mussel shells filled two baskets, leaving a pool of sauce that would not go to waste. Joyce asked for some bread to dip with the sauce and was given two hot rolls (Think Gregg’s).
We’ll be back to Legal Sea Bar. And we’ll probably sit at the bar and ask for Lauren, as we go down the starters list.