Cocktails and Bar Bites at the Polo Bar, Mayfair:
Spending an evening eating and drinking in a top class bar is, I suspect, a fashion that is long overdue a revival. Especially when venues like the Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel, Mayfair offers excellent food in portion sizes which don’t lead to a diet crisis and at prices which make luxury affordable. But then, I’m the sort of person who would rather have one square of Amadei than a whole bar of Dairy Milk. I’ve been to the Polo Bar before and enjoyed a cocktail before dinner, but never tried the bar food. That’s something I’m very pleased to have rectified, thanks to an invitation to review from the Hotel.
The Polo Bar is a stunning, art deco room, with plush deep blue velvet chairs, Swarovski Crystal lighting and walnut tables arranged around the bar, where the mixologists are at work.
We were greeted warmly and taken to our table. Overwhelmingly comfortable, the formality and luxury of the bar was relaxing rather than in any way oppressive. It was elegantly grown-up.
Of course, the first thing to do when we arrived was to pick a cocktail.
My companion chose the ultra pretty Imperial Lavender, a champagne cocktail made with Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial, Snow Leopard vodka, homemade lavender syrup and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
My Brazilian Kiss was a long, refreshing drink of Leblon Çachaca with blueberries, vanilla syrup and lime topped up with Moët. Well balanced and not overly sweet, it was, as the menu states, finesse and happiness in a drink.
Along with our drinks arrived a little tray of olives, Sicilian bread and salted almonds to nibble while we waited.
We ordered panko crusted prawns, nine golden lollipops of fish, with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Plump and delicious without a hint of grease on the crisp panko coating. An excellent way to start the evening.
They vanished VERY quickly so we asked if we could split an order of foie gras parfait in pastry cones and one of smoked salmon sesame cones – three of each so that we could try both without being too greedy. Dainty morsels, I had a marginal preference for the foie gras mousse, with quince jelly and crushed pistachio.
Our second cocktails arrived. For me, one of the house specialities – a Twinkle 68. A champagne cocktail, this concoction includes Dictator Colombian gin infused with white tea, hibiscus and rosehip, fresh lemon and gold sugar. Deliciously light and fragrant with the gin and white tea, it was an elegant drink that I’d order again without hesitation.
My companion decided to try a martini. The Polo Bar has a good list of options and she picked the Modern Cosmo, with Ketel One Vodka infused with cranberries and shaken with orange curacao, fresh lime and sage. If I’d chosen for myself I’d probably have picked the Choco Wood, made with Auchentoshan whiskey with vermouth, Mozart chocolate bitters and honey. I’m intrigued at the thought and might just have to go back and try one for myself.
A couple more plates of food arrived, two Asian inspired dishes. First Yellow Tail Tuna – a very delicate dish of fresh tuna wrapped in rice paper with pickled ginger, coriander, soy and sesame. It was delicious – more complex than sashimi but with all the flavour of ultra fresh sushi quality fish.
Duck spring rolls had crisp fried shells filled with a melting duck confit and a nicely sticky plum sauce. Perhaps the least spectacular of our bar bites, but very moreish! What was impressive about the bar bites for me was that everything was beautifully served, perfectly balanced and easy to eat with fingers.
There were more extravagant options too – Beluga and Oscietra Caviar at £420 and £250 for 50g. But we were saving space for dessert!
Washed down with a glass of Moët, we particularly enjoyed Frangelico cornettos – delicate cones filled with hazelnut liquor, pastry cream and caramel – a perfect accompaniment to a glass of champagne, but managed somehow to tuck away the chocolate ganache twist with just a touch of spiced pear sorbet.
I’ll need to return of course. I’m fascinated by the Botanical Gin Experience on offer which is a collaboration between Tanquerëay No.10 gin and Fever-Tree tonics. It’s the chance to add your own botanicals to a gin and tailor it exactly to your own taste, creating a personalised G&T for £16. I’m sure with the help of the staff at the Polo Bar I could make an excellent drink. And, given that the Westbury is also home to a sushi restaurant, I’m keen to try the sushi and sashimi served in the Polo Bar for £35. There are plenty of other cocktails to tempt – the Mayfair Gold with Tanqueray Gin shaken with fresh lychees and elderflower and splashed with Moët Brut Rosé for example. It’s an affordable luxury and one which I intend to keep indulging in.
With many thanks to Elias Yiallouris and his team for providing us with such a fabulous experience.
The Polo Bar
London W1S 2YF