Tucked along 5th avenue, around from the Ralph Lauren headquarters store, you will find the exclusive and oh so refined Polo Bar and Restaurant. This posh bar is only open to guests who have a dining reservation – a reservation that may take up to a month to make. Sure, there are rules for restaurants in the city that require all members of your party to be present in order to make a standing reservation, but none that have rules such as this.
To be completely honest, I had only recently discovered this bar thanks to a friend’s pictures on Instagram. This friend happens to work as a designer at Ralph Lauren and took a few friends out to dine and of course documented the event. (I mean, if it’s not on IG, it didn’t happen, right?) Anyways, as I wrote it on my New York and East Coast bucket list and thought nothing more of it. Knowing me, I would have forgotten to read into the rules about reservations and would have just showed up at the front door only to be turned away.
Well, a few weeks later and I was in luck when another November Project friend offered me her reservation. I was sad that she couldn’t attend and promised to document the entire experience. I sure do owe her a drink or somehow get her back in there because it was truly a treat!
I decided to invite my friend Lindsay to tag along as she would totally get a kick out of the atmosphere and chic dining experience. She too is from California and we are bound and determined to experience everything that the city and the east coast has to offer.
When we arrived, we were greeted by two “bouncers” at the front door. I use quotes because it was pretty much a host and hostess but doing the job of bouncers, checking ID’s and probably eyeing you up and down to make sure you wouldn’t make a spectacle of yourself or the restaurant. Just kidding, they were probably only checking for reservations.
Anyways, once we submitted the name on the reservation, we entered into the bar and were greeted by bartenders mixing cocktails and decked out in Polo plaid ties.
^^ Drinks are certainly on the pricier side, but this being New York and a swanky Ralph Lauren restaurant, I guess I would expect nothing less. My Blackberry Cobbler (Botanica Spiritvs Gin, Cassis, Blackberry, Pineapple – $20) and Linsday’s Rosé Royale (Provence Rosé, Champagne, Royal Combier, Grapefruit – $20)
Even if you arrive extra early, you probably won’t be called to dine until your reservation is ready. This is probably best to keep things nice and orderly and allowed us to people-watch from the bar. Also, even though we had arrived at 7:30, the bar did not start to pick up steam until 8 or so when we were escorted downstairs for our reservation.
The dining room itself is located downstairs from the 36-seat bar/lounge area and filled with 132 seats. The ambience reminded me of a very refined version of the Tam-O-Shanter in Los Angeles (a Lawry’s restaurant and one of the oldest in L.A.) with the plaid and cozy ambience. It is decked from floor to ceiling with elaborate wood floors, real life polo mallets, helmets, and saddles on the walls, and endless pictures of horses.
For this being an exclusive dining location, I found no trace of snobbery or snootiness from the diners or staff. It was truly one of the nicest dining experiences I have had out in some time and makes me look at New York in a different light.
^^ Of course we would indulge in the butter provided alongside warm popovers topped with Gruyère cheese
^^ Last step, dessert of course!! The reservation had originally been made for a birthday, so we played along with the celebration and agreed upon the coffee ice cream with dark chocolate shortbread cookies. (I’m not sure if “Ralph’s Coffee” was included but they didn’t ask or offer, so I guess that may be an add-on)
Lindsay and I discovered that this was the first formal dinner we had paid for by ourselves. Sure, we probably looked like we were on a date of our own, especially by spitting the entree and dessert, but who cares because dining at the Polo Bar and Restaurant was completely worth it! Plus, let’s be honest, the people dining in the restaurant most likely run in different circles than she and I do. The likelihood that we will ever meet them again? Slim to none. So carpe diem!
“The world is open to us and each day is an occasion to reinvent ourselves” – Ralph Lauren