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Best New Restaurant

BEST NEW RESTAURANT: One Restaurant & Lounge The strategy seems so obvious, so foolproof, it’s a wonder more places don’t try it: Put together a menu that’s adventurous but grounded, assemble a team that can translate it into good food and serve it in an attractive space at equally attractive prices. Obvious, perhaps, but not that easy to pull off. One Restaurant & Lounge manages to do it, however, and it’s kept the Riverbend cafĂ© hopping, night after night, almost from day one. Owner Lee McCullough and chef/proprietor Scott Snodgrass, who both hail from Atlanta, preside over the bustle like good party hosts, making guests feel at ease and welcome while keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. From the open kitchen, the focal point of the 75-seat room, Snodgrass has a view of just about every table in the house. “I can see the reaction of the customers,” he says. So what comes out of the kitchen has to sparkle. Snodgrass likes to call his cooking style “contemporary comfort food,” but that only hints at the range of influences that go into it. There are the inevitable Southern touches — the restaurant cures its own meat — as well as Creole, which Snodgrass picked up while working in the kitchen at Uptown mainstay Clancy’s. But Snodgrass’ background includes Greek and classic French cuisines and a stint behind a sushi bar, and elements of each crop up in his creations. The culinary globe-trotting approach is nothing new, Snodgrass acknowledges. “There’s nothing that I’m going to do that nobody’s done before,” he says, but “what we’re going to do is do it better. We’re going to do it in a better atmosphere, and the employees are going to be happier. “I love our food,” he adds. “It’s comfort food. And it’s becoming more and more refined every day.” –Russell McCulley

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