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Legal Sea Foods

I love a good New Jersey chain restaurant, thats no secret, but Legal Sea Foods doesnt really fit into the Outback Steakhouse/Olive Garden/Chilis mold. It does sit right next to Ruby Tuesdays in the Garden State Plaza, but I think its trying to be more. And for some reason I can deal with an upscale Boston chain while the Napa Valley Grille in the same mall drives me nuts just on principle.

Sometimes I fear my fascination with chain eateries will cease to be the occasional amusement and that at some point I will have crossed over into the realm of typical customer. (I certainly don't think of myself as a “yuppie.” Lord, who would unless they were trying to be truly ‘80s retro, but I am white, live in a relatively affluent, peaceful tree lined Brooklyn enclave and enjoy food and wine. I don't partake in much sushi or chardonnay and barely earn enough to cover basic expenses.) The mousy, wire-rimmed glasses and office lady sweater duster look hasnt overtaken me yet. And so far, James isnt into shaker knits and pleats. We witnessed these old before their time twosomes, as well as merry divorcees bragging about reverting to their maiden names (and drinking the exact same Cabernet Sauvignon I have at home). Ill revel in Legal Sea Foods, but I refuse to be them.

You are reminded you arent truly fine dining because the waitstaff is a little overzealous. Our guy was manic (which was further proven by his giant, animated bubbly male handwriting on the bill) totally overdoing it like he really took to heart being told to compliment the customers choices during training. We ordered the seafood dip and he spazzed out, “thats my favorite, no one ever orders it.” Ok, fine, he couldve stopped there, but continued with vigorous disgust, “I don't know why no one ever orders it. It makes me sick!” Yikes, Ok.

After the crab dip so wonderful and misunderstood that it made our waiter sick I had the shrimp trio, which contained wood grilled, baked and stuffed, and coconut varieties. I also went starch crazy with my two sides and tried the jalepeno cheddar polenta (which was abnormally enormous, easily twice the size of Jamess portion) and baked squash, which was actually quite good: buttery, charred around the cubed edges and tossed with appropriately seasonal dried cranberries.

I left feeling slightly dirty and a tiny bit closer to impending suburbanhood. But at least I have yet to set foot in Napa Valley Grille.

Legal Sea Foods *One Garden State Plaza,Paramus, NJ

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