"I'm drawn to the kind of food that people truly enjoy - vibrant food that people want to return to time and time again" - Ralph Lauren
I was thrilled for Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex, when I heard that the American leg of her Baby Shower tour included one of my favorite restaurants in New York City, The Polo Bar!
This exclusive Midtown eaterie, located just off 5th Avenue, is one of Ralph Lauren's four restaurants (the others are in Chicago, London and Paris) and has quickly become THE spot to see and be seen in NYC. It is currently a favorite of celebrities including J.Lo and A-Rod, Gwenyth Paltrow, Bradley Cooper and Andy Cohen.
The first time the Hubby and I dined at The Polo Bar we were smitten! The welcoming exterior, complete with a beautiful Henry Koehler, polo-inspired mural, classic green awnings and manicured boxwood topiaries, set the tone for the elegant experience to follow.
Ironically, The Polo Bar is located in the same site as the legendary NYC restaurant La Côte Basque. Dubbed "a high-society temple of French cuisine," by the New York Times, it was a favorite of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Babe Paley and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. La Côte Basque thrived for 45 years until it closed its doors in 2004.
As a Pharmaceutical sales rep in Manhattan in the late 90's, I hosted my first physician dinner at this esteemed establishment. Needless to say, it was extremely well-attended and one of my first experiences with fine dining in NYC. It sure felt good to be back to experience the location's most recent incarnation.
After properly checking in at the front door (more on that later!), we stepped into the warmly lit, equestrian-themed, 36-seat bar area complete with glamorous, gilded light fixtures and mirrored walls. The enchanting ambiance was greatly appreciated after our day of travel (including a 5 hour flight delay following a bird strike!).
Soon we were seated at the bar sipping chilled glasses of Veuve Cliquot Champagne and sampling a selection of delightful bar snacks. Savory Pigs in a Blanket slathered with spicy mustard never tasted so good, while the divinely decadent Caviar & Fingerling Potatoes were the perfect accompaniment for our Champagne. After sufficiently priming our palates, we were summoned from our reverie by the hostess who guided us downstairs to our table.
The dining room exuded a handsome, masculine elegance with rich, Mahogany paneling, cozy leather banquets and sumptuous emerald green walls. Tartan pillows and gold sconces completed the look and no Ralph Lauren establishment would be complete without Lauren's personal totem, the horse.
The Polo Bar dining room features a profusion of gold framed, equestrian-themed portraits and photos accented by equine accoutrements such as burnished leather saddles, polo mallets and helmets. Together, these items add rich texture, depth and dimension to the inviting space.
The cuisine at The Polo Bar is distinctly American, and features causal, yet chic fare with specialties including the RRL Hot Dog, Ralph's Corned Beef Sandwich, and the famed Polo Bar Burger. Steaks are sourced from Lauren's own Double RL Ranch in Colorado when availability permits. Service was also spot on and our servers at the bar and our table guided us towards food and wine selections we were supremely satisfied with. No matter where we dine, we always ask the staff to share their favorite dishes and wine recommendations, nobody knows the menu like they do!
We enjoyed a delicious bottle of the 2015 Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph "Offerus" with our meal. This full-bodied, Syrah-based red wine from France's Northern Rhone Valley featured smoky, spicy, black fruit accented flavors that paired beautifully with our dishes, especially the Warm Mushroom and Kale Salad, with a rich bacon-infused dressing!
The Hubs and I shared the juicy, flavorful NY Strip Steak($55) with Hand Cut Fries and the succulent Chicken Under a Brick ($34) with Sauteed Spinach, Lemon & Rosemary. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and served with a generous serving of heavenly, crispy fries that were completely addictive. The ketchup and fries were both served in silver julep cups which was lovely, glamorous touch.
One dish Steve and I are both passionate about is roast chicken. Whenever we visit a new restaurant, the roast chicken is always one of our selections because we've found the quality of a restaurant's roast chicken is generally a good gauge of the menu as a whole. I'm happy to report, the Polo Bar's incarnation was phenomenal! The wonderful flavors of lemon and rosemary beautifully accentuated the chicken.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at The Polo Bar. It was the perfect kick off to a luxurious weekend in NYC and we highly recommend it the next time you're in town. HOWEVER, one important thing to note when making your plans is The Polo Bar has a MANDATORY reservation policy. So whether you plan on dining at the restaurant OR having a drink at the bar, reservations are REQUIRED.
A manager explained the policy is intended to preserve the experience for guests with reservations since space is extremely limited. So please be sure to plan well in advance the next time you're heading to NYC because the experience is definitely worth it. Plus, you never know when you'll run into royalty - Hollywood or otherwise!
The Polo Bar 1 E. 55th Street New York, New York 10022 212.207.8562