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Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar

Ralph Lauren's new Manhattan restaurant

by Luca Manzoni
January 22nd, 2015

The rooms of the historic restaurant La Côte Basque – 1 E. 55th St., New York, NY – symbol of high society, the favourite of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Truman Capote, now host the new Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar. The location, perfect for this purpose, has been renewed and restyled: a new look, a new life for an already suggestive place.

Wooden walls and furnishings, warm and subtle colours, tartan touches, riding details: the mood is that of an exclusive club, in a real Ralph Lauren style. After RL in Chicago and Ralph’s in Paris, the new Polo Bar is the third restaurant of the American fashion designer. The traditional American menu – salads, hamburgers, crab cakes, steaks and desserts – combines elegance and good food, with menus for vegetarians. Like his “brothers”, despite the clear Ralph Lauren soul, this Polo Bar takes inspiration from NYC style and the pubs the designer loves the most, like the well-known Keens Steakhouse.

When patrons cross the brass-trimmed entrance, they are greeted by a large backlit mural of a polo match; past the front door here there is the bar area with herringbone floors of reclaimed oak, walls panelled in pine boards salvaged from an 1860s Alabama textile mill, a hefty oak bar with a hammered-brass top, and a long banquette upholstered in aged saddle leather. A cozy seating area at the rear, centred on a fireplace with a carved-pine mantel and a green marble surround, is decorated with equestrian art and an oversize 19th-century English riding trophy.

The main dining room, with seating for 140, feels just as intimate, thanks in part to the honey-hued coffered ceiling, nooks and alcoves covered in deep-green billiard cloth, and sumptuous leather banquettes accented with tartan pillows. On the walls, works by prominent painters of horses, such as Henry Koehler, Allen F. Brewer Jr., Frances Mabel Hollams, sketches by the French portraitist and illustrator Bernard Boutet de Monvel and photographs by Richard Phibbs. Furnishings and silverware are by Ralph Lauren Home collection; the dinnerware is produced in England for Polo Bar only. A unique style for a restaurant dedicated to the new New Yorker high society that the ancient aristocrats would have liked for sure.

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