Four ways to dive into seafood this spring in Kendall, Central and Harvard squares
Temperatures are still iffy, but restaurateurs have decided it’s time for seafood. Legal Seafood is jumping into the poké craze, Viale is getting a lobster pop-up and Les Sablons has opened in Harvard Square’s Conductor’s Building with a menu tilted toward raw bar and fish. Here’s a rundown of the three new seafood doings in Cambridge.
The Legal Fish Bowl lands somewhere between Central Square’s Life Alive and the poké craze – that’s like a raw fish salad (or wrap) for those who haven’t stumbled across the four poké places opened between Davis and Harvard squares within the past few months. The new fast-casual concept carved out of Legal’s Kendall Square eatery offers six signature bowls between $8.95 and $13.95, including a vegetarian and chicken option among the tuna, salmon and shrimp, as well as a create-your-own bowl that starts at a base $7.95. Legal’s private dining room is gone, replaced by a fishbowl-style design of reclaimed wood, white stone and stainless steel that promises to shuttle diners through fast: it has only four seats, a standing counter for six and additional seating for 16 at communal tables in a space shared with Legal Sea Foods. Legal Fish Bowl is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 355 Main St.
Viale, an upscale Central Square eatery, is hosting a “Get Down” pop-up May 11 with Snappy Lobster and Castle Island Brewing Co., putting five lobster dishes together in a beer hall setting with old-school hip-hop. Look for chilled lobster salad ($14), Duck Fat Lobster Tail and Pork Belly ($18), a lobster pizza ($17), a Knuckle Sandwich lobster roll ($26) and half grilled lobster ($26) served between 5 and 10 p.m. May 11 at the 502 Massachusetts Ave. restaurant. Reservations are here.
The Conductor’s Building – a former office for conductors for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority dating back to 1912 – is only 20 feet wide, which makes for an appealingly eccentric but elegant set-up for the just-opened Les Sablons, once to be called the Bennett Street Eatery. The oyster restaurant opened Tuesday at 112 Mount Auburn St. and 2 Bennett St. with food preparation in the basement, a “neighborhood cocktail party” with Jackson Cannon on the first floor and serious dining overhead. The simple menu includes three Massachusetts oysters (Saquish, Duxbury and Barnstable) for $3.50 and a Shigoku from Willapa Bay, Wash., for $4, as well as three more raw bar dishes of Maine uni ($11), Columbia River salmon ($15) and a King Crab cocktail ($26). A potato with caviar for $19 stands out among appetizers (there’s also caviar with brioche) and among main dishes there’s roasted monkfish and wild Alaskan salmon for $32 and $38, respectively. Non-fish people will get along fine; there’s chicken, lamb, a beets and radishes dish for vegetarians and a filet mignon caps the menu at $44, and more without fish in small dishes.
And a late addition: The Hourly Oyster House – inheritor of a storied space at 15 Dunster St., also in Harvard Square, notes that its patio opens for the first time Friday. The site was once a bank, and the former bank’s vault has been a selling point for the eateries that have occupied the space since: Herrell’s Ice Cream, for a long run, and First Printer and Kennedy’s on the Square for much shorter tenures. The Hourly uses the vault as a wine cellar, but not many people would want to eat it in anyway if they’ve got outdoors dining as an option in the upcoming good weather. This Grafton Group restaurant is under the supervision of executive chef Taryn Bonnefoi, who’s delivered an admired Lobster Spaghetti along with a range of other dishes. It’s open to 11 p.m. daily (with the bar open until midnight).