A lot of people don’t know it, but Legal Seafoods has an incredible wine program, selected for quality and value by Legal’s VP of Beverage Operations (and Master of Wine), Sandy Block, who also happened to be one of my wine instructors at Boston University.
Particularly impressive is the wine cellar at the Legal in Park Square Boston, and we had the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary there on Thursday night.
The Director of Marketing for Legal Seafoods kindly invited us to attend the Bethel Heights wine dinner the restaurant was featuring, and having heard wonderful things about their wine dinners, we immediately accepted.
Bethel Heights is a winery located in the Eola Hills of the Willamette Valley, and winemaker Ben Casteel was on hand to walk us through the wines.
Legal Seafoods pulled out all the stops when it came to the menu. While everyone got seated, we sipped a gorgeous Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc and nibbled on a few snacks.
Hors d’ Oeuvres
Lobster Crostini, Preserved Lemon Basil Oil
Mushrooms in Phyllo, Thyme Lemon Zest Butter
Mini Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Mustard Sauce
(Bethel Heights “Estate” Pinot Blanc, Eola-Amity Hills, 2009)
All three hors d’ oeuvres were delicious, but the lobster crostini certainly won me over. The lemon basil flavoring complemented the sweet and tender lobster perfectly. Leave it to Legal to do lobster perfectly.
Shaved Fennel and Apple Salad
shrimp, stuffed squash blossoms, spicy lemon vinaigrette
(Bethel Heights Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2009)
A perfectly cooked squash blossom was crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside, filled with shrimp, atop a crunchy and refreshing salad. With a pronounced acidity and a hint of apple flavor, the wine really complemented both the fried part of the dish and the salad.
Maryland Crab Meat and Avocado Bisque
lime zest crème fraîche
(Bethel Heights “Estate Grown” Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills, 2009)
This dish and pairing was absolutely outstanding. The avocado bisque was warm and creamy, great on a summer evening but would also be a huge comfort on a cool fall night. The Chardonnay had a little bit of oak on the nose, but when I tasted it, found it not to be oaky at all. Instead, the wine was bright and lush, balancing perfectly with the lime in the soup. This is definitely a Chardonnay I would drink again and again, and I don’t say that often!
Hickory-Grilled Wild Sockeye Salmon
black quinoa and mixed wild rice, charred Rainbow chard, hen of the woods cream sauce
(Bethel Heights Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2008)
(Bethel Heights “Estate Grown” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2008)
Perfectly, perfectly cooked salmon served on a bed of crunchy pilaf was meaty, flavorful, and flaky. And is there anything more Oregon than Pinot Noir and salmon?
Wood-Grilled Crostini with Taleggio, Manchego, Morbier
(Bethel Heights “Casteel Reserve” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, 2007)
(Bethel Heights “Southeast Block” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2008)
Again, a perfect pairing, the cherry compote and two Pinot Noirs danced in my mouth and made for a sweet and slightly spiced end to the meal. The finishes on these wines were long and lasting and made me want to return to the Willamette Valley as soon as possible.
I used the word perfect quite a bit in this post, but the evening really was just above and beyond in food, wine, service, and company. We actually got to sit with the winemaker during dinner, a very exciting experience to hear about his background and the wines one-on-one.
I would return to Legal Seafoods for a wine dinner in a heartbeat. I think the restaurant chain is often overlooked or known for its classic New England seafood, and I have to say I am continually also impressed by the wine and service.
While our dinner was complimentary, thanks to the generosity of the folks at Legal, my review is 100% my own.
Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?