We’ll be the first to admit that the whole speakeasy thing - especially when it’s applied to restaurants instead of cocktail bars - is kind of dumb. It’s cosplay at best, and at worst, it’s an affectation - something a restaurant does to stand out because the food isn’t anything special. Even if you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll probably wonder if this is actually a good place to eat, or if you just had fun walking through a faux hair salon into a dimly lit bar that’s trying really hard to look like a place where people plan jewel heists.
But No Relation, a nine-seat sushi counter hidden in the back of Shore Leave (a tiki bar that itself is hidden several floors below street level) is an exception. Not only is the omakase at this South End spot outstanding, but it’s also the type of speakeasy that even the cynic in you will wish was real.
The next time you want to feel special (and you should listen to Dr. Phil when he says you deserve to), make a reservation at No Relation and show up a half-hour early. After you drink something out of a skull at Shore Leave, the host will grab you and the rest of the No Relation diners, and march you all through the restaurant in a single-file line. Everyone else will look up from their bao and wonder why you’re all going to the bathroom together. But instead of the bathroom, you’ll slip through an unmarked door into an efficiency hotel room-sized sushi restaurant where two chefs will be behind the counter, sharpening knives and testing butane torches (side note: sushi chefs are probably better equipped for a zombie apocalypse than any other kind of chef).
As far as the rest of Shore Leave knows, you’ll never be seen from again, because for the next two hours you’ll all be enjoying one of the better omakase experiences in the city. The meal at No Relation is usually about $100 per person (the price might differ a bit based on ingredients) and you’ll get about 15 courses. Nigiri is the star here, and it will come topped with everything from black truffle and mango, to fried garlic and brown butter.
If you’re someone who gets a little disappointed when a sushi chef hands you something where mushrooms or noodles are the centerpiece, then No Relation is your spot. Almost every single course is focused on raw fish, and the few that aren’t, like the wagyu beef and New England miso clam chowder, might end up being some of the best bites anyway.
No matter how cynical you might be about the speakeasy concept, you’ll have fun at No Relation pretending to be a member of the Crazy 88 who has access to exclusive underground sake dens. Especially because the food is good enough to justify the cosplay.
Around $100 gets you 15 courses. The menu changes frequently, but expect things like cured sea bream topped with mango and chili, scallops in brown butter, and, if you’re feeling extra fancy, a white sturgeon caviar course that you can tack on for an additional $25.