It’s one of the hardest reservations to score in the country, but not just because of its diminutive size (22 seats in all) or limited days of operation (Wednesday to Saturday; dinner only). For one, the Catbird Seat feels both intimate and exclusive: Guests are seated at a U-shaped counter that surrounds a central open kitchen. Then, there’s the thrill of the unknown.

Strategic Hospitality, the Nashville-based restaurant group started by homegrown entrepreneurs Ben and Max Goldberg, has hired a roster of notable chefs for extended stints, giving them carte blanche to create whatever inspires them during their tenure. Among them: Trevor Moran, an alumnus of Noma in Copenhagen. Since January 2016, Chicago-born chef Ryan Poli (another Noma vet, who also trained at the French Laundry) has held the reins, calling upon influences from his two-year stint working in kitchens around the world. A couple of recent hits: an umami-rich black truffle risotto made with sunflower seeds instead of rice, and noodles made with nori and spiked with zesty yuzu.

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Nashville's Hottest Reservation

This restaurant, perched above the also stellar cocktail bar Patterson House, keeps guests intrigued and entertained with an inventive seven-course tasting. Chefs cook and interact directly with diners in just 22 seats around an open kitchen.

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