More than two years after the lights went out at the end of its last meal service, Legends is back and better than ever.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Legends reopened its doors to the public, with a redesigned interior and an all-new menu.
“We’d like Legends to be the perfect spot for our Notre Dame family and friends whether they are on campus every day or to catch a game,” said Molly Di Carlo, assistant director of marketing for University Enterprises and Events. “The refreshed restaurant still celebrates the history, legend and lore of Notre Dame with sepia-toned photographs of Notre Dame’s past which adorn the restaurant’s walls. We want customers to feel immersed in Notre Dame tradition.”
Last week, three co-workers and I had lunch at the reopened restaurant. Walking into the lobby, we noticed it still has its friendly, comfortable feel, with hosts ready to take your party information and your coats and usher you into the new dining room. With new deep blue wallpaper and updated lights and decor, the dining area feels more upscale while also being cozier and more inviting. The frosted glass panes separating the bar area from the rest of the restaurant are gone, giving the space a much more modern, open vibe.
We sat at a booth, comfortably sized for four people, with a pendant Edison bulb hanging over the table to give off a soft ambient light. I’m a toddler mom so I immediately noticed the crayons set at each table, which all have brown paper on top to encourage doodling. The music playing throughout the restaurant was on point, ranging from Pink Floyd to Kate Bush to Mumford & Sons.
Our server, Audrey Arroyo, was a pro, helpfully explaining our options on the extensive menu. The new menu still has favorites like burgers, wings and nachos alongside lighter options including salads, salmon and grilled chicken, in addition to a kids menu. Drinks include housemade cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks.
My co-workers and I each wanted to try something different to really get a feel for the new Legends. We started off with four different cocktails — each well-made and nicely balanced — and two appetizers, the soft pretzel and the chicken nachos. The food came out after a short wait and we all gasped when we saw the generous portions of both items. Each appetizer is definitely enough to feed four, and they were delicious. The pretzel is a traditional soft pretzel, topped with a bit of salt and served along with plenty of spicy mustard and beer cheese. The nachos were a hit.
My co-worker Gwen O’Brien, director of community relations in the Office of Public Affairs, who joined us for lunch, said, “The chicken nachos were delicious and the platter was huge. Even with four of us, we hardly made a dent in it. I would absolutely order this dish again. It could easily be a quick meal I could share with my husband on our way to or from a basketball game.”
The four of us each tried a different entree, ordering the Bus BLT, maple mustard glazed grilled chicken breast, the King of Campus (steak frites) and whiskey-glazed salmon. Each dish came out fresh, as ordered and generously plated. I ordered the salmon and was pleasantly surprised to see quinoa included with it, since the menu only had glazed carrots listed as part of the dish. After tasting the quinoa, I was even happier because it had been prepared to add a bit of crunch to the dish, which was unexpected. The salmon portion was huge and perfectly cooked, with just enough glaze to give it flavor and color. The Bus BLT, named for Jerome Bettis, lived up to its namesake in size and came with a heap of fresh french fries. The steak was cooked to my co-worker’s request and was topped with chili lime butter and chimichurri.
Gwen, who ordered the chicken, said, “The maple mustard glazed grilled chicken breast was exactly as the title suggests. Two grilled chicken breasts, topped with mustard seeds, were served on a bed of soft Brussels sprouts tossed with bacon pieces in the maple mustard glaze. The chicken was very moist and delicious and the Brussels sprouts were soft — not hard like they can be. The bacon was meaty and not skimpy. There was enough left on my plate for at least one more meal, so I brought it home!”
We ended our lunch with an order of the whiskey-flamed cinnamon sugar donut holes for dessert. These were served as a jumble of warm donut holes on a plate with a liberal amount of whiskey glaze and mounds of whipped cream. We very much enjoyed these, even though we were nearly too full to have room for them.
Throughout our meal, I couldn’t help but notice that the restaurant had taken care to think through all the details of the dining experience. If your coat wasn’t taken at the door, the booths each have coat hooks on the outer edges so you don’t have to stuff your coat onto the seat. Paper straws were served with the water, and the appetizers came with serving spoons and individual plates to make them easier to share. The chicken nachos came with jalapeños served on the side in case we didn’t care for the spice. These details, paired with the pleasant and friendly staff, really added to this experience and made me eager to go back to Legends again, and soon.
For the Legends menu, operating hours and reservations, visit legends.nd.edu.