Sophie McIntyre takes her dad to sample an array of delicious slings and curious flavour combinations at the 70s-style Mayfair bar.
The Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel, is a nicely positioned establishment. It is just off Conduit Street and is a suitable location from which to gaze out the window and watch the smart and the beautiful padding along the cobbles, whilst sipping a martini. All very civilised.
The positioning naturally lends the bar a special ambiance; however, the bar’s interior is rather dated. Kandinsky style paintings play against an art deco theme, while the windows are draped in what looks like glittery chainmail. It's all a bit Soho for Mayfair.
However, there is a certain charm and appeal, partly perhaps due to the slightly old world interior, but also thanks to its clientele. Looking above the jarring carpets and the ornate railings, the place is buzzing with interesting characters and the staff are very attentive – a great place for a business drink or pre-dinner aperitif.
My father accompanies me for a few pre-dinner drinks this particular evening and I can't help but think that the design, cocktail and bar snack menu are more suited to his slightly out-of-date tastebuds, rather than mine – which I like to think of as, of course, both achingly modern and also incredibly discerning.
But even Dad struggles with the smoked salmon ice cream cone nibbles we are served.
'The cone is sweet. It's a little confusing. I’d prefer one of those little pancakes,’ he reflects.
I tend to agree with him. It was a rather odd mixture. Although the Champagne Deluxe cocktail washing it down was at least a pleasant, if again overly sweet, mix of bubbles, pomegranate, gin and elderflower.
Björn Borg walks past. Dad is impressed, but all I can think of is the man’s rather hideous underwear line, which my boyfriend insists on wearing.
‘Too much salmon,’ Dad decrees. The cone has been well and truly admonished.
The 70’s vibe continues as we delve further into the bar menu – club sandwiches, panko prawns, lemon meringue ice cream cones (cones are clearly the chef’s favourite…).
Some of the cocktails are rather in this vein too, sophistication swamped by gaudy Scarfacesque gesture. The unimaginatively named ‘Pearly Gem’, a combination of lychee, lime, champagne and pineapple foam. The fig julep sounded great, but the Baileys overpowered the fig immensely. It was also, again, insanely sweet.
The bar menu does, however, offer some very tempting options if you order right. The Raffles Sling, Margarita and Martini are all excellent and some of the items on the menu looked enticing – aged jamon, sushi, Beluga caviar (at £420 for 50g) and an intriguing sake salmon dish.
If I were to visit again, it would be the spot on classic cocktails and the solid menu options that I would be hankering for (probably after one too many of their delicious slings). A good old scotch egg, hearty sandwiches, fish & chips and the basic Italian menu selection are your best bets. Give me a Martini and a burrata over a smoked salmon iced cream cone and a ‘Pearly Gem’ any day. If you can ignore the misplaced seventies’ frills you can still enjoy a solid and buzzing drinking establishment.