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With apologies to the other restaurants that opened over the past year that I love, when I sat down to make my own list of Best New Restaurants, I wrote “The Continental” three times. Sean Brock’s newest restaurant (until Audrey opens), which is located in the lobby level of the Grand Hyatt, is an homage to hotel dining of the past, as well as the chef’s always-inventive brain creating modern interpretations. I was first drawn to The Continental thanks to three little words: prime rib cart. And yes, this is some sublime prime rib; Brock has figured out how to get the flavors from the tasty bits that are stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan imbued through every bite. But the real genius — and I don’t use that word lightly — of The Continental is the way that Brock and his team infuse thoughtfulness and joy through every part of the experience. The set menu means you don’t have to think a lot about what you’re going to eat: Just let the experts plan your evening. Enjoy the velvet plush of the banquettes. Enjoy the genuine glee the staff has at being part of this team. Sip a cocktail, have them help you select a bottle of bubbly, or choose from a selection of zero-proof wines. Let the carts — pâté en croûte, prime rib, dessert — roll up to your table and enjoy your role in fine dining that isn’t stuffy or pretentious. Enjoy the fact that Nashville is lucky to have Brock as one of our own.

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