In the world of New York City restaurants, architects must often dig up the old to create the new. During renovations at some of the city's latest top dining rooms, designers were stunned to discover that hidden under layers of plywood, wallpaper, and cigarette smoke was some truly magnificent architecture: mosaics, arches, columns, and, in the case of Gray Kunz's upcoming Grayz (still under renovation at presstime), four Rockefeller-built fireplaces.
Cuisine The experimental and the classic coexist on Paul Liebrandt's menu: a salted rhubarb salad and lamb roasted with fresh pine.
Significant Discovery With Adam Tihany's Le Cirque 2000 lighting and carpets cleared away, Patrick Jouin has showcased the original geometric and floral mosaics.
You Knew It As Le Cirque 2000
What's Off-Key The controversial purple geodesic jungle gym in the bar.
Details Prix fixe dinner, $185. At 455 Madison Ave.; 212-891-8100.
Cuisine Geoffrey Zakarian's haute-American dishes include roasted pigeon stuffed with foie gras and a lemony sea urchin–filled pasta.
Significant Discovery Designer David Rockwell unearthed two treasures: the original mosaic floor and a stunning 1911 Tiffany-style dome skylight that was smothered in smoke, dust, and grime.
You Knew It As The utterly forgettable Carlton Hotel
What's Off-Key Nothing, not even the crystal chandeliers encased in avant-garde acrylic boxes, is out of place.
Details Prix fixe dinner, $170. At 90 Madison Ave.; 212-889-7100.
Cuisine Steak, lamb, pork, and veal comprise the bulk of Craig Koketsu's menu. But there's still room for lobster and gnocchi and cheese.
Significant Discovery The design firm AvroKo discovered a series of 19th-century concrete columns encased in elaborately zigzagging steel, giving the room some modern industrial chic.
You Knew It As Manhattan Ocean Club
What's Off-Key All those pretty flower arrangements.
Details Dinner, $120. At 57 W. 58th St.; 212-371-7777.