H2O gets new oxygen from Michael Meehan. The roving chef updates and improves the already popular seafood house. He comes to Smithtown after opening Speranza Fine Italian Food Studio in Woodbury earlier this year. You'll also remember him for other memorable destinations over the years, including the Mill River Inn, Tupelo Honey and Clearwater. Meehan keeps many of H2O's signature dishes, refines others, adds some of his own. But, overall, it still feels like a work-in-progress. The dining room itself stays unchanged: seaside images, comfortable seating, a hint of New England.
Meehan has kept a bracing, satisfying New England-style clam chowder, accented with applewood-smoked bacon. The generous jumbo lump crab cake now comes with a tomato-lime coulis and corn relish. More mussels, too, led by the spiced-up Gulf Coast number, with shrimp, tomato and nuggets of smoky andouille sausage. Meehan also sends out tasty, pan-seared shrimp-and-lobster wontons, dabbed with hoisin sauce and mustard oil.
The house's "millennium" pan-seared lobster continues to star; and the black-pepper- crusted tuna salad remains appealing, with its miso-ginger vinaigrette. The house's big tuna, however, materializes "everything crusted," as you'd expect to find on a bagel, flanked by wasabi-mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. Have it very rare. A milder alternative: snowy, moist hazelnut-Parmesan crusted swordfish. Meehan tweaks H2O's seafood potpie, offering a savory, first-class combo of root vegetables, finfish and shellfish in a delicate velouté, capped with a chive biscuit. The sushi menu: trimmer, but good. Conclude with a professional crème brûlée.
Yellow-tomato soup has a saucy style suited for pasta. Beer-battered fluke loses its crispness en route to table. Filet mignon Wellington's puff pastry also turns mushy; Brie "fondue" doesn't contribute much, either. Lush chocolate sauce nearly rescues dense, vanilla cream-injected doughnuts. Nothing saves the limp Meyer lemon tart.
THE BOTTOM LINE