Pros: Attentive, friendly service, excellent value for money spent, good fish and snow crabs
Cons: Dark interior, located in the Siberia of this mall- level three
The Doc and I threw ourselves into the maelstrom of Pentagon City a couple of weeks ago. I'm still in recovery mode from the damage done at the cosmetics counter at Macy's. While the Doc got her tresses trimmed at the salon downstairs, I set off to explore, with the instructions to "find a place that has crab legs."
The L&N is the sole remnant of what was once a thriving chain of fishy dinner houses. The original opened for the World's Fair, held at Knoxville in 1981. The name is in honor of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. After its sale to Morrison Restaurants, the chain was buffeted about like a corporate plaything and its branches were closed, one by one, leaving this lone outpost in Arlington, Virginia. The third level of Pentagon City isn't the busiest part of this sprawling place. It's placed so that you almost have to be seeking it in order to find it.
The interior is a bit dark, but not uncomfortably so. Expect lots of old celebrity pictures on the walls, forest green oilcloth on the tables and a few bits of bead-and-board paneling here and there. It's pleasant but simple.
Think fish and you will be on the right track....
Nothing stands out as remarkable on this short list. Popcorn Shrimp ($7.49), Asian Spring Rolls ($7.99) and the ubiquitous Crab and Artichoke Dip ($7.99) fill out their offerings. We didn't bite.
I fell for the Maryland Creamy Crab soup ($4.49). While I'm still not convinced of its authenticity, I was happy with the soup. Its almost unnatural Halloween orange color was more than compensated for with lots of crab. And it was crab, not surimi. They also have a respectable New England Clam Chowder ($4.29) and Seafood Gumbo ($4.29). We will be back to give these a try.
While the dinner menu doesn't make a point of featuring salads, we were offered either plain or Caesar salad. The Doc loved the freshly made ranch dressing. I liked the crispness of the Caesar. Nothing remarkable, but well presented and good.
Fish and So Forth
The Doc reminded me that she was here for crab legs and crab legs only. Everything else was strictly incidental. We were sorry to note that the crab leg special only applied on Monday nights. I think it was something like $17.99 for a great mound of them. In any event, the Doc received a ridiculously large pile of crab legs for $24.00 (market price). Billed as "Snow Crabs", these hailed from Alaska. Wherever they came from, they were fresh, sweet and firm. I was recruited to finish them off. There were no side dishes, but the salad and hot biscuits were more than enough. The sweet biscuits are something of a signature dish here, and might almost be offered for dessert.
I went with the L&N Mixed Grill ($18.99), expecting crusty niblets of fish with more roasted vegetables and potatoes than actual fish. I was dead wrong. Three large filets of salmon, tuna and swordfish were the stars of this trifecta. Swordfish is something I don't always order. Often drier than a railroad tie, it may speak more of the desert than the sea. I was refreshed to find their swordfish wasn't dry at all. The salmon and tuna were likewise fresh and properly prepared (I like mine just slightly rosy inside and they managed this without a hitch). The vegetables and potatoes weren't anything special, but you got lots of them.
Other main dishes you might try include Crab Stuffed Salmon ($18.49), Maryland Crabcakes ($19.99) or Grilled Scallops ($15.99). Steaks, pasta and chicken are offered as well. The most expensive item on their menu is the Surf and Turf for $29.99. I usually stay away (more like run) from these as you rarely get the best of either. Given the overall quality of the food at this place, I might be tempted to give it a shot next time.
There's a full bar and a standard wine list. We didn't bother with either one, opting for iced tea instead. Their most expensive bottle is a California cabernet sauvignon at $26.00. Nothing exciting, but it won't hurt much.
Our server was friendly and attentive. We couldn't have been better served. Her timing was on, and she didn't burden us with "up-selling", a practice I detest.
While the food may not be a culinary adventure, it's well presented. Value? We had three big filets of fish, soup and crab legs for only $55.00--at dinner. While this was without alcohol of any kind, this is almost unheard of in the Washington area. Yes it's a good value! Prices at lunch are an even better bargain.
Unless you have a large party, you'd probably have no trouble getting a table here at most times. Don't worry about what to wear either. The atmosphere is casual. Parking is available in the mall parking garage or in the acres of nearby parking lots. You can also take the yellow or red lines on the Metro to Pentagon City. Most major brands of plastic are embraced here. Don't leave home without it. Open as follows:
Monday- Thursday 11:00 AM- 10:00 PM
Friday- Saturday 11:00 AM- 11:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 PM- 8:00 PM
L&N Seafood Grill
in the Fashion Center at Pentagon City
1100 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202