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Photos: Inside Our Favorite Fine Dining Restaurant's New Menu

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 5, 2015 3:11PM

We're big fans of Intro, Lettuce Entertain You's rotating chef restaurant in Lincoln Park. Every menu they've introduced has been better than the one that came before—which sets up a pretty high bar for the chef who's coming next: Stephen Gillanders.

Luckily, he's got extensive experience and is introducing a new twist to the concept: Instead of tasting menus, the next version of Intro is going a la carte.

Gillanders has extensive fine dining experience, with stints at many of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants around the world. He's working on opening his own place in Los Angeles, but has stopped in Chicago for a brief stint at Intro, thanks to Rich Melman, CEO of LEYE.

"Anyone that talks to Rich automatically wants to have something to do with him," says Gillanders. After Gillanders presented a tryout tasting menu to Melman, Melman sent him on a nine-week tour of Europe. Gillanders has extensive experience traveling in Asia, but he'd never toured the great restaurants of France.

His menu at Intro is, "Reflective of my traveling," he says. He won't use the dirty word "fusion," but the idea is to help him to craft his new identity as a chef.

"Jean Georges has the benefit of saying he does Jean Georges food. A lot of chefs can ride on that," Gillanders says. "I don’t have that reputation. To say that we’re doing Stephen Gillanders' food doesn’t mean anything to anyone yet."

The menu is a combination of familiar dishes presented in unique ways and dishes that, at first sight, look exotic but bring together familiar taste combinations. His take on a kale caesar, based on the idea that the original caesar salad was invented in Mexico, uses roasted pumpkin seeds (to provide the crunch of croutons), jalepeño and cojita cheese in lieu of parmesan. "When someone eats it, it’ll seem faintly familiar. We’re not going to test the diner, but we’re not going to just give someone a caesar salad."

In addition to the familiar tasting menu format (which they'll retain), they're also adding an a la carte option, with dishes priced in the $12 to $16 dollar range for appetizers and the $28 to $32 range for entrees. Check out the dishes in the gallery. The new menu starts on Oct. 29, and reservations are available starting Monday.