The Joy in the Familiar
When going out to eat, there are feelings of excitement, joy, and always just a splash of uncertainty. For me, or probably anyone with a food allergy/sensitivity/disease, going to new restaurants can be fun, but also somewhat nerve-wracking. I love trying new places but since there is a lot of research and planning that always happens first (what is the menu? are there enough GF options? do I trust that they will handle GF needs properly?), I find extreme comfort and solace in going to a handful of places repeatedly, knowing that I can eat safely and without worry from beginning to end.
My family has been going to Legal Seafoods for as long as I can remember. From special lunches out on the weekends when I was little, to large family gatherings for birthdays or anniversaries, or buying all of their fresh lobster and chowder for at-home seafood feasts, it's been in my life for literally 31 years. It's a New England (or really, MA) institution and it's known for great, fresh seafood and a very easy atmosphere with a menu that caters to everyone. Yes, it's a chain restaurant and while that sometimes steers me in the opposite direction (let's be honest, I actually prefer non-chains in general), Legal Seafoods is a champion in regard to serving guests with Celiac Disease, and for that I am humbled and delighted every time we decide to go.
I think it's important to note that prior to my diagnosis, I had a hard time understanding those with food allergies/restrictions. When I saw notes on menus that said to alert your server of any food allergies or in the case of Legal to mention if you had Celiac Disease, I was often confused and simply ignored those words altogether, which I'm sure still happens to most people when they dine outside their home. Little did I know that eventually those food allergy comments would directly affect me, and I would be praising every restaurant that makes special accommodations for those of us living with Celiac or other food "issues" (I hate that phrase 'food issues,' but it is often the easiest way to get the message across).
My husband and I like to go to Legal for worry-free dining and awesome GF fried seafood (and lots of other delicious choices). Full disclosure here, my friends, I love fried food. Yes, it's unhealthy, yes it's super unhealthy, but I won't ignore the fact that it's delicious and everyone deserves this kind of treat once in a while. The fact that we live very close to one of Legal's locations is somewhat dangerous, but it's worth it to note that the entire menu is extremely GF friendly so there are many dishes besides fried food for seafood cravings that are Celiac safe. The staff also treats food allergies extremely seriously, another fact that makes me eager to return again and again.
Lately, I've been learning to love fried clams, in honor of summer's arrival - of all shapes and sizes - and pairing that luxury with a healthier side dish, such as a salad or sautéed vegetable. I'm trying to mix the good with the bad, which is quite a form of restraint, in my opinion. Other menu items that I love there are the classic shrimp cocktail, Anna's Baked Boston Cod (a family favorite), Everything Tuna, and the Seafood Casserole. While their amazing New England Clam Chowder is not gluten free (such sadness), the Lite Clam Chowder is GF, and is just as flavorful. Overall, a great menu filled with GF options, and a wide-variety of seafood selections for everyone.
As I've mentioned before, going to new restaurants can be daunting with Celiac, which is why I am grateful that places such as Legal Seafoods exist. I am able to enjoy some of my favorite foods in a familiar setting where I know I am eating Celiac safe, and continuing to be a regular at a restaurant that has been a staple throughout my life.