Review: Polo Steakhouse at the Garden City Hotel

The Sceneimg_20170226_140407

The building itself is only ’80s-old, but its history predates even the Gatsby era levels of grandeur. The service follows suit, as immediately apparent from the courteous complimentary valet under the portecochère that sheltered the doormanned entrance of this AAA Four Diamond hotel.

We walked in to a sparkling lobby where, immediately to our right, were the open door and smiling hostess and manager of Polo Steakhouse (once known as Rein). Having arrived a few minutes early, we literally peeked behind a billowing curtain to preview what was in store for us at Long Island’s answer to the Rainbow Room in New York City. Set up in a semi-partitioned space with tasteful decor, ornamental fireplaces, and streaming sunlight with stations set up strategically along the passageway, the layout belied the variety and quantity of choices on which to dine. The flow was such that despite the crowd, you didn’t feel crowded; despite the tremendous selection, you felt relaxed and not overwhelmed. img_20170226_141334

We’d also like to note that sharing lobby space with a semi-enclosed brunch spread can be challenging since bacon and its like tends to waft, but clean air circulated throughout the space and kept scents neutral–an impressive feat.

We were escorted through the tasteful Polo Lounge space, where a large bar was capped by large TVs and coffered ceilings. Stately in a country club smoking lounge kind of way, it was upscale without excess and very classy. img_20170226_115049From there, we were led past a second hosts’ stand to the main dining room, where rich reds and golds, leather trim and heavy oversized seating, and an ornate chandelier set in a tray ceiling set a tone of posh, masculine tradition befitting a high-end steakhouse. The setting was intimate and extremely luxurious, but again, in a discreet manner that makes one simply feel important just for being there without being able to state why.

And so we began.

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H2O – Essential to Life and Now, to Brunch

After a successful soft launch Valentine’s Day weekend, the new H2O Seafood & Sushi in East Islip is going eggs-out for brunch from here into the foreseeable future. Available from 10 AM – 2:30 PM, bottomless bellinis, mimosas, and Bloody Marys will be offered for $13 with purchase of an entree, creating a wonderful window of time where good ol’ H2O may not exactly be your stand-by beverage.

Their regular sushi menu–including the outstanding Tornado Rolls, which feature fried shredded potatoes (apropos for brunch) in lieu of rice–will be available all day and night every Sunday now, and oysters and sashimi are also on the menu for those who prefer to start their fundays in the raw.

Courtesy of H2O East Islip, taken by the talented Doug Young.

Courtesy of H2O East Islip, taken by the talented Doug Young.

With a long list of tantalizing breakfast-type dishes that will paralyze the indecisive, this is one not to miss. Potential stand-outs include:

  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles, sampled again and again at H2O East Islip’s pre-opening party to rave reviews ($16)
  • Lobster Huevos Rancheros, which makes a Mexican-inspired stroke of genius even more irresistible with the addition of butter-poached lobster along with the typical crispy tortilla, fried eggs, ranchero sauce, cotija cheese, and creamy avocado ($26)
  • Seafood Hash, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise and showcasing the holy trilogy of crustaceans: lobster, shrimp, and crab. Pro-tip, you can also get this as a side. ($20, $12)
  • Fried Egg Sandwich with Italian sausage versus the traditional breakfast version, topped with aged cheddar and two fried eggs on toasted brioche, served with both roasted potatoes and field greens (because #eatyourveggies) ($11)
  • Spicy Shrimp Skillet, which has both scrambled eggs and sausage along with its namesake shrimp and tomato. Cheddar is melted on top and a toasted baguette accompanies ($18)
  • Crab Cake Benedict, a rendition we’re sure will be outstanding having already had their excellent large-lump, little-filler, golden breaded and fried crab cakes ($18)
  • H2O Omelette, available in three combinations: butter-poached lobster and avocado, lump crab and hollandaise, and spicy shrimp and tomato ($16-$24)
  • Hot Pecan Cinnamon Rolls for the table … or yourself. Your call. ($8)

Staples like Steak & Eggs, Belgian Waffles, and a typical sampler platter of eggs, bacon and potatoes are also present on the menu; a Kids Brunch item cuts it down to just the right size.

Fried chicken sandwich. Courtesy of H2O East Islip, taken by the talented Doug Young.

Fried chicken sandwich. Courtesy of H2O East Islip, taken by the talented Doug Young.

An indulgent selection of more savory lunch options renders decision-making even harder. Cases in point:

  • Figs & Prosciutto with goat cheese and marcona almonds ($15)
  • New England Clam Chowder, made even more flavorful with applewood-smoked bacon. Having just returned from Boston, I’m happy to go on record as saying this is a great execution of a regional classic! ($5-$9)
  • The Boston Lobster Roll is a wee less authentic (if past tastings are any indication), stylized here with a thick brioche-type roll and served with Boston bibb lettuce and herb mayo as well as Old Bay fries ($27)
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with shredded Romaine lettuce, tomato slices, and mayonnaise spiked with BBQ sauce ($14)
  • An Everything-Crusted Fresh Tuna Sandwich puts a spin on their popular dinner dish by taking the fish, pickled ginger, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, and miso mustard and popping it into a brioche bun

As we all know, it takes people in seats to make a brunch stick … but with a menu like this, it won’t be long before the waits here get long.

Now a Proud Member of the Foodie Tribe!

foodie-tribe-badgeWe are so excited to share news about our acceptance into the Foodie Tribe, a collective of food influencers, culinary pioneers, and gastronomic brands that partner together for the greater good of the eating world.

This collaboration will mostly take place on Instagram; you can follow Su-Jit at @sjlin on that forum for all things brunch … and other almost as important meals.

You can find information on Foodie Tribe on www.foodietribe.org, or also on Instagram at @foodietribe.

Looking forward to great things to come!