If there were ever to be an actual physical address of the old boys’ club, it would be The Polo Bar in Midtown East. It has that high-end country club look down to a tee, from the dark wood paneling to the classic, all-American fare and of course the people. This is probably the least diverse crowd you will ever come across, the type who aspires to go to the Ivy League, get an investment banking job, send the kids to prep school and own a house in Greenwich, CT. In fact, we spotted a very senior private equity professional that very day at dinner with his wife. I guess there is a market for American nostalgia, for a time when people had breakfast at Tiffany’s and affairs to remember, because Woody Allen is still making movies and this place is still packed a year after its opening.
With the air of exclusivity The Polo Bar tries to cultivate, you can bet that the food and drink prices will be pretty steep. Be prepared to spend $20+ on a cocktail and $28 on a burger. As an fyi, to level-set your expectations, the burger is one of the cheapest entrees on the menu. You’re better off splitting a bottle of wine, which can be reasonably priced if you do a little research on the mark-ups, and drink yourself numb to lessen the sticker-shock of paying so much for what is essentially high quality country club food. The food itself is solid, familiar and well-executed, and I legitimately enjoyed the complimentary plate of popovers and our crab cake appetizer, but as for the entrees, there’s better to be had at comparable and much lower price points elsewhere. The burger was fine, but not in the same league as a burger from Emmy or Umami, and there are so many great roast chickens out there (Barbuto, Le Turtle, The Nomad…) that the one at The Polo Bar didn’t even have a chance. But who cares when you’re eating at such an elite club! Not everyone can get to be a member or can afford to pay these prices, but only you and a chosen few can, and that’s what really matters.
The Polo Bar
1 E. 55th St (between 5th and Madison Ave)
New York, NY 10022