What makes dining out so interesting these days is the enlivening tension between classicism and innovation, tradition and change, sturdiness and playfulness. For every dish that seeks to pay loving honor to the past, there seems to be an equally loving, if cheeky, reinterpretation that aims to bridge the old and the new.
CLASSIC: Wood-grilled lobster at Buck's Fishing & Camping.
MODERN: Maine lobster in a curried cream sauce crowned with zucchini curls and ringed with pumpkin gnocchi at Cafe 15.
CLASSIC: Cheeseburger on brioche with garlic mayo at Palena.
MODERN: Kobe-beef tartare molded into a patty and topped with a brioche bun at Poste.
CLASSIC: Duo of Foie Gras--a seared slab and a torchon--at 2941.
MODERN: Foie gras impaled on a lollipop stick and swabbed in a cloud of vanilla cotton candy at Minibar.
CLASSIC: Roasted prime rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding at Colvin Run Tavern.
MODERN: Grilled calotte of prime Midwestern beef --the coveted dark, fatty "tenderloin" of the prime rib--with Perles du Japon risotto and Matusake mushrooms at CityZen.
CLASSIC: Vanilla crème brûlée at Montmartre.
MODERN: Savory lobster crème brûlée with baby fennel and tarragon vinaigrette at Restaurant Eve.
CLASSIC: BLT on Texas toast with applewood bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo at Urban Bar-B-Que.
MODERN: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato--a cured, smoked, braised, and roasted slab of pork belly with a lettuce wrap of Vidalia-onion confit and a crouton of tomato raisin chutney at Palena.
CLASSIC: Rack of lamb with Shiraz sauce at 1789.
MODERN: Tandoori rack of lamb with a ragoût of green lentils at IndeBleu.
CLASSIC: Cassoulet of lamb, duck confit, and sausage with white beans at Bistro d'Oc.
MODERN: Deconstructed Cassoulet-- shrimp, sausage, and white beans at Zest.
CLASSIC: Alsatian choucroute--sausage, duck, goose confit, foie gras, and sauerkraut at L'Auberge Chez François.
MODERN: Ocean choucroute--sea scallops, mussels velouté, and confit of green cabbage at Le Palais.
CLASSIC: Napoleon of puff pastry layered with custard in a pool of caramel sauce at Citronelle.
MODERN: Niçoise napoleon of boudin made with pig's foot, mushroom, and foie gras with crispy pork skin and mushroom sauce at Citronelle.