I have been to some training functions before where the training class I was with wasn't all that great. Either they weren't a sociable group or there was always that one teacher's pet who annoyed the entire class. There was always something that wasn't right. That wasn't the case with this group. In fact, one of things that worked to our advantage was we had a few people who were from around the area. That came in extremely handy when it came time to find good restaurants. Especially good seafood.
I may have grown up in the midwest all my life but I wasn't naive enough to realize that I couldn't get real seafood there. It would take a trip to an area close to some real open water to get fresh seafood. You couldn't ask for a better place to do that than Boston. Actually, we were staying in a small town outside of Boston called Hopkinton. No open water there, but certainly closer than the midwest. Our local connection informed us that we could get as close as possible with Legal Sea Foods even though it was a chain.
The thing about chain restaurants is some of them are only regional. I'm used to seeing places like Gates and Famous Daves. They've never heard of those here. Legal Sea Foods is chain popular in New England. Not only do we not have it in the midwest (or Texas) but I had never heard of it. However, I had a funny feeling that it had to be better than Red Lobster (the chain we DO know). And keep in mind that I love me some Red Lobster.
Normally, I would have let the presence of a huge, corny looking fish on the outside give me second thoughts. Could it have been any more corny? But from the moment the appetizers came out, I could see the exterior meant nothing at all. Although I'm normally not a calamari fan their Crispy Montauk calamari struck a chord. It was regular, spicy, Rhode Island style (hot peppers and garlic). The spices gave it an extra zest that made the calamari hard to put down. Between those and the shrimp wontons I was confident that the actual dinner couldn't miss.
Everything on their menu looked SO good that I had a difficult time making a selection. I decided early on that one thing that would not be an option would be lobster. I was saving that for our trip to Rhode Island where we knew the lobster would be amazing. So I went with the seafood casserole. It was scallops, shrimp, lobster and scrod baked with cheese and cream sauce with a side of jalapeño cheddar polenta. I didn't know what jalapeño cheddar polenta was but figured it was hard to go wrong with a combination that included jalapeño and cheddar.
When she brought out the dish, I was a little disappointed. The dish the casserole came in was rather small. It was about the same size as the dish that I've seen shrimp scampi come in as a side dish. Looks were clearly deceiving in this case. That small dish was deeper than I had anticipated. And it wasn't bits of seafood in it. It was nice-sized chunks. Nice-sized, succulent, juicy chunks. It was amazing. My mouth is watering again now just reminiscing about it.
Now the jalapeño cheddar polenta was something else altogether. It was described to me from a local that it was almost like grits. It wasn't. Their version of it was more like a dried cornbread/crabcake hybrid. Only without the crab. I took one bite and quickly concluded it wasn't for me. That was the only glitch about the experience though. Given their other outstanding dishes and the very cordial service (although she had no place to go but up after the British Beer Company experience), I left wishing that Legal Sea Foods would expand to our area.