The Legal C Bar, Hingham

Legal C Bar

I was an early fan of Jasper White. I traveled to Boston to eat at Jasper's, his dazzling restaurant on Atlantic Avenue. I still swear by his book, Jasper White's Cooking from New England. When he opened Summer Shack in Cambridge I made the trek and found it huge, cold in atmosphere, and mediocre in cuisine. I love real seafood shacks, and White's version wasn't even close.

When they opened a Summer Shack at the Derby Street Shops in Hingham I kept trying it. After all, I thought, it's owned by Jasper White, surely he'll bring it around. I had some good fish there, but never an entire meal without a serious flaw. The restaurant deserved to close and did.

The good news is that it has been replaced by Legal C Bar. Okay, it's a dumb name, and the sparkly sign looks like it belongs on a used car lot. The atmosphere inside might be better when the place is full. It's a large dim room devoid of charm, and it was nearly empty when we were there for lunch on a Tuesday. Never mind that; the food was outstanding.

It's a new concept by Legal Seafood. I've always found their restaurants dependable. I've never had fish that wasn't fresh and well-prepared. That's saying a lot. Where else would you eat at Logan Airport or bring an out-of-towner for scrod? A lovely piece of fresh fish, perfectly cooked is exciting enough for the likes of me, but Legal Seafood never went for glitz. 
Until now.

For lunch Annette had fried Malpeque oysters from Prince Edward Island with a seaweed salad. You squeezed a fresh lime wedge over a mixture of salt and cinnamon and dipped each oyster into it.

Cinnamon on oysters? It not only worked; it made your taste buds snap to attention and salute. It's a marvelous thing to go to lunch when you're shopping and get a dish that gives you something pleasant to think about for the rest of the week.

I had the signature crab cake. It was made of lump crabmeat that was not overdone. In fact it was like a warm crab salad just stuck under the salamander long enough to brown it a little. It was moist and flavorful and came with a sprightly green salad. I got a side of onion strings that were expertly done. To drink, Annette enjoyed a perky rosé wine, and I had a draft Fisherman's Ale from the Cape Ann Brewing Company.

Annette got a side of sautéed Swiss chard that was a little too chewy. This was the only flaw, and I must admit underdone greens are fashionable. The chard was garlicky and studded with toasted pine nuts. I think the dish was the way it was supposed to be; it just wasn't to my taste.

For dessert we shared a banana bread pudding that was sweet and tasty. This was particularly pleasing after the disastrous desserts we suffered at Summer Shack. We got a wedge of blueberry pie there that is enshrined in our all-time pastry hall of shame. I must add that the coffee at Legal C was so good I'm still thinking about how it tasted. I must also commend Mary Ellen our server, who was helpful and charming.

I'm recommending Legal C Bar to you and anyone else who will listen. I think you'll find the daring dishes aren't just gimmicky, they're well thought out. If you're not the sort to take risks, there is plenty of plainer fare backed by Legal Seafood's well-known dependability.