H2O East Islip - East Islip, NY
Last week I had the honor of attending a private tasting and cooking demonstration at H2O East Islip. The Bohlsen Group invited a number of top Long Island food bloggers to sample items from the upcoming menu and meet with the man behind the scenes, Executive Chef Wayne.
When I first pulled up to H2O East Islip I was surprised at the outside design. H2O Smithtown has a very trendy modern look to it, whereas, H2O East Islip is nautical-themed and cozy. Once entering the restaurant, I saw that the inside décor further encompassed this theme and immediately felt transported to a seaside resort town.
Upon arriving upstairs, I was greeted by friendly bartenders that were whipping up cocktails for the event. I love any cocktail that contains Elderflower, so I decided to order the Babylon Express. This cocktail is served in all of the Bohlsen Group restaurants and one I have ordered many times prior to this event. It is a perfect light cocktail for any time of year but especially refreshing for the summer.
Now that I had my cocktail, I was ready to try some of the delicious appetizers H2O East Islip provided for the evening. The first appetizer was a beautiful skewer of tuna and watermelon in a soy and citrus vinaigrette. It was a lovely light bite and a perfect way to start the tasting.
I absolutely love Oysters and usually you have to dress them up yourself with the standard cocktail or Worchester sauce. H2O East Islip presented these beautiful oysters in a watermelon and cucumber mignonette. Not only did the oysters look beautiful but they tasted wonderful as well. The combination of the two appetizers worked wonderfully together as the watermelon flavor was prevalent in both dishes.
After the appetizers, Chef Wayne began his cooking demonstration with two different ways to prepare scallops. The first preparation was for a Sea Scallop Crudo dish. We all gathered around and were amazed as Chef Wayne actually took the scallop right out of the shell in front of us. We knew we were in for a special treat and there would be no using frozen seafood at this restaurant. Chef Wayne took the raw scallop and combined it with oranges, Asian pears, and micro cilantro. He topped it off with some soy and citrus vinaigrette. The flavor combination was wonderful and I really enjoyed the different textures from the softness of the scallops versus the crunchiness of the pears.
After we all enjoyed the Sea Scallop Crudo, we gathered around Chef Wayne again to watch as he prepared Scallops and Crispy Rice. This dish combined fresh scallops with jasmine rice, broccoli, and crispy shallots in a kim chi vinaigrette. The scallops were seasoned beautifully with just the right amount of salt to further enhance the flavor. I really enjoyed the crunchiness that the broccoli brought to the dish. The rice however was a little too crispy for my taste. It felt a little more like under-cooked rice than crispy rice. Overall, I did enjoy this dish but would prefer my rice a little less crispy.
After the tasting, my friend and I decided to stay and try some of H2O East Islip's current dishes on the menu. Since we were pretty full from the tasting, we choose to share a lobster roll and a side of roasted mushrooms in truffle butter.
The lobster was butter poached and served warm on a wonderfully toasted bun. The bun was the perfect vessel to hold these beautiful chunks of lobster. The only other addition to the roll was bibb lettuce so the lobster was really able to shine.
The truffle mushrooms (not pictured) were hearty and full of flavor. My friend described it best when she said it had an almost meaty type of consistency. This is definitely a side dish I need to order again in the future.
The Bohlsen Group has worked their magic yet again in creating a wonderful, quaint restaurant located in East Islip. Not only is the décor beautiful, but the ingredients are fresh and sustainable. I will definitely be back to try other dishes on the menu, as long as someone at my table orders the lobster roll so I can have another bite!