Rich Melman is never one to leave well enough alone, so it was wholly unsurprising when he announced that the private dining space at the back of his chameleonic Intro would morph into a standalone showcase for Lettuce Entertain You’s longtime fish expert Naoki Nakashima. (For those keeping track, that brings the number of Lettuce spots inside the Belden-Stratford to three. Melman should probably get the next one free.)
To get to it, you’re led through Intro’s kitchen to an unmarked door, behind which is a little gem of a restaurant, somehow light filled and lively even though it’s basically a windowless sushi closet. Shutting out the outside world lets you focus on Nakashima’s silken truffle chawan mushi and outstanding fish, including some vibrant traditional rolls (for instance, the refreshing shiso-leaf-topped cucumber) and Naoki-style sashimi (perhaps radiant bursts of sliced madai with charred mushrooms and plums).
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