Whether it’s the 150-year-old antique pine trim, the forest green billiard felt wallcovering, or the well-crafted, bacon-topped cheeseburgers, dining at The Polo Bar at 1 E. 55th St. in New York is a true Ralph Lauren experience.
Adjacent to the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship (see the December 2014 issue of VMSD), the new restaurant’s overarching design is an offshoot of the retail store’s environment. According to a company spokesperson, the hallmark of The Polo Bar – along with the neighboring flagship and any Ralph Lauren environment – is its painstaking attention to detail.
Upon entering the upscale eatery, diners are greeted by an inviting, stained white oak bar detailed with hand-carved wooden corbels and a hammered brass top. Small bistro tables featuring the same brass tops are evenly positioned along the length of the space, while suspended brass and copper lighting fixtures and chevron-patterned antique oak flooring provide a warm and welcoming gesture.
The in-house design team was challenged by the location of the main dining room on the lower level. To drive traffic down to the restaurant’s hub, patrons are led to a grand staircase, highlighted by a carved, wooden handrail, felt green walls, the requisite equestrian art and forest green painted trim.
The glow of a working fireplace welcomes customers into the main dining area where lights, handcrafted by local metal artisans, provide a warm candlelit ambience to the dining tables and the leather banquette-perimeter seating arrangements. Large, elegantly framed mirrors behind the banquettes visually enlarge the space, while brass wall sconces add a touch of romance.
Four strategically positioned service stations, featuring authentically aged, reclaimed soapstone countertops, function as the base of operation for an attentive waitstaff. The well-appointed space, with its collection of curated equestrian art, includes twin portraits of the fabled, illustrious thoroughbreds Citation and Man o’ War, positioned as sentries watching over the diners.
A private dining room, inconspicuously tucked into a back corner, features a long table and a grand painting by artist Henry Koehler, who’s well known for his equestrian-themed works. Another large-scale Koehler is mounted and backlit in the front window to project the brand image to midtown passersby.
Evidence of Ralph Lauren’s renowned attention to detail is even apparent in the hexagonal tile and mosaic flooring of the restrooms and the green painted walls of the coat-check room with its complementary hanging polo helmets and mallets. The Polo Bar clearly satisfies any appetite for a beautiful interior environment and a satisfying meal.