Eating In Boston: Legal Sea Foods vs. Tapeo

We’ve been in Boston for two suppers now, and have had two very different restaurant meals.

On Saturday, on the way back from the Children’s Museum, we stopped at Legal Sea Foods at Park Square. I’d always had good experiences at Legal, and although it’s a chain, it has at least the veneer of being local, and I knew the service would be excellent.

I was wrong.

We were shown to our table, our order was taken. And then we never saw our waiter again. We waited too long for our appetizers, too long for our main course, and nobody ever bothered to ask if we wanted dessert or coffee. The check never came, and I was forced to hunt down a manager to get it; even then, she left immediately and I had to hunt down someone else to actually pay. While the food was excellent, the abysmal service ruined what would have otherwise been a very good night out. Mindful of Johnny’s dictate that one should always report problems like this, I sent a full report to Legal by email; I can only hope that we caught them on a bad night.

Last night was as different as you could hope for on the service spectrum.

It was Catherine’s birthday yesterday, and mindful of her love for “small plate eating” — dim sum, tapas, etc. — I made reservations for us at Tapeo on Newbury Street after reading generally favourable reviews online.

The service at Tapeo was excellent, from the host at the entrance through to our server who was patient, helpful, aware of children, and just generally a pleasant person to interact with. She made the meal memorable.

While it’s difficult to recreate the vibrant “belly up to the bar for whatever’s available today” experience of a bar in Spain, Tapeo’s food was great too: somewhere in there we had baked goat cheese, battered shrimp with green sauce, salmon balls, garlic potatoes, duck with berry sauce and grilled asparagus on toast with an olive/anchovy tapenade. I’m not entirely sure what a tapenade is, but man was it ever good. The bill, at $71 with drinks, was perhaps five times what one would pay in Bilbao, but for a birthday night out in Boston, it was well worth it.

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Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 24, 2006 - 18:49

I received a very pleasant call from the manager of the Legal Sea Foods location we dined at this afternoon here in the office, following up on my email. It was nice of him to follow up.

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