We were shopping around for a venue for my birthday dinner close to Boston this week. Our hearts were set on raw oysters and Oysters Rockefeller. I looked online and researched the Summer Shack, Island Creek (only open in Burlington), and Legal Seafoods among others. Seeing that most prices were similar – and opting for free parking, we settled on Legal Seafoods Chestnut Hill and made an appointment to sit inside, the first time in months. We were giddy with anticipation.
Long story short: Great, enthusiastic service. Not so wonderful: Although oysters and raw clams were listed as available both on the menu and online, we were told by two different staffers that they hadn’t had any in months. Why, then, do they continue to list them? Not a nice practice–especially since it was exactly what got us in the door. And no Oysters Rockefeller, too. (See above for the no oyster debacle).
Perhaps the current crop of raw oysters don’t meet their exacting standards. If that’s the case they should say so because each of us has found oysters at other area restaurants both here in Boston and in Connecticut. So what gives? Darned if I know
The menu was severely truncated–which we absolutely understand due to Covid. Less predictable guests. Less kitchen help. Perhaps less access to vendors. All understandable. Dinner was fine: we shared a perfect Caesar salad. I opted for the cod with mashed butternut squash. My sister had the seafood casserole and our friend had the salmon teriyaki sandwich. They were all tasty and there was plenty to take home. Two plates also contained “steamed” broccoli. These cruciferous veg were a nanosecond away from raw and tough and barely cuttable. The stems hadn’t been trimmed and they were practically inedible. (We took them home, cooked them properly, trimmed the bases, and they were fine if still tough.)
I asked for the bartender to make me a “Deadrise” cocktail–which he did, and which hit the birthday spot: muddled cucumber, grapefruit bitters and gin.
Again, our young male server was attentive, VERY apologetic about the oysters, and charming. He explained that whereas they used to have a small cake or cupcake for birthdays, they didn’t have any of those anymore either. I had been hoping for a tiny cupcake with one candle. You don’t turn 73 every day!
We left generous tips but were also a bit disappointed by the meal. Perhaps it is all Covid related–I suspect it is. But restaurants also have an obligation to advertise honestly about their offerings and perhaps even acknowledge shorter menus. We’ll still patronize them. We just won’t have any disappointing surprises.
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