Best New Restaurant

While I am loathe to use the word “unicorn” in an era when every girl on Instagram thinks she is one, it is the first phrase that popped into my head when thinking about this year’s best new restaurant. In its freshman year, The Green Pheasant cleared so many hurdles. They’re located downtown, but in a way that somehow seems designed for locals — tucked away on First Avenue, safely out of stumbling distance for Broadway bros but close enough you can easily drop in on your way to the Ryman. Secondly, their food is clean, seasonal, inventive and insanely delicious. Japanese food in Nashville tends to skew one of two ways: light and raw (sushi, poke) or heavy and decadent (ramen, deep-fried something-or-other). The Green Pheasant offers both with nuance and ingenuity that are hard to find, especially in a place that serves food for 11 hours straight most days. You’ve got the greatest hits from sister restaurant Two Ten Jack — creamy tonkatsu ramen, buttery chili-crab noodles — alongside stellar newcomers like grilled Hawaiian moonfish and chirashi, raw fish on rice accented by puckery pickled vegetables and caviar. You’ve got chicken-wing gyoza with sweet chile sauce alongside tamago: basically a zesty, Japanese deviled-egg sandwich on fluffy white bread. Should you need it, you’ve also got friggin’ wagyu beef. Add the light-flooded atmosphere, the city’s only certified sake sommelier and heated toilets (crucial if you come pre-Preds in winter, which you should), and there’s no question: 2019 is the year of The Pheasant. ASHLEY BRANTLEY

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