1 East 55th St.
New York, NY 10022
Tel. +1 212-207-8562
BY ANTONIO GALLONI | SEPTEMBER 1, 2016
Summer House Salad
Ralph’s Corned Beef Sandwich
Dover Sole; Pan-Seared with Meyer Lemon Butter Sauce, Golden
Roasted Chicken; Mashed Potatoes, Traditional Au Jus and
1996 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises
2007 Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne
2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet
1990 Domaine Dujac Clos La Roche
1990 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva
1971 Ponsot Clos de La Roche
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical going to the Polo Bar
for the first time. Reservations are nearly impossible to come by and the Polo
Bar has acquired a reputation for being quite a scene since it opened
last year. Our dinner was absolutely delicious. I can hardly wait to go back.
It’s easy to miss the Polo Bar's discreet entrance on East 55th
Street, just off Fifth Avenue. Two hosts greet me and usher me back to one of
the rooms where a group of friends have begun to gather. The bar is buzzing
with energy. Low lights, wood paneling and leather banquettes evoke classical
images of Americana.
The small cocktail tables in the back and the cramped feel
aren’t really my thing, but then the 1969
Salon is poured and everything slows down a bit. When it is on, the 1969
Salon is a magical bottle. Rich, powerful and intense, the Salon captures all
of the magic of this vintage. I wouldn’t hold bottles too much longer, as the
1969 is at its peak. The 1996 Bollinger
Vieilles Vignes Françaises,
on the other hand, is very young. Remarkably pure, bright and crystalline, the
1996 VVF is utterly captivating, with plenty of citrus, dried herb and almond
overtones. What a great bottle of the 1996 this is.
Summer House Salad
Luckily, the downstairs dining room is a little more spacious,
although the Polo Bar is not exactly the place to go for a quiet, intimate
dinner. Here, too, things are bustling. Wine Director Darnell Dodson, whom I
first met several years ago at a charity dinner at The
Modern, takes excellent care of these bottles from our cellars. As we settle in, I take a good look at the wine menu. In a part of town where lists can be staid, conventional
and overpriced, Dodson has put together a small but thoughtfully chosen list
with some real plums at all levels. Impressive.
Corton-Charlemange is simply fabulous. Even so, tonight the 2007 is
painfully young. The classic reductive Coche bouquet appears first, followed by
scents of slate, pear, smoke and white flowers. Tasted over the course of the
evening, the 2007 gradually opens up, but what it really needs is cellaring.
The 2007 Montrachet from Domaine de la
Romanée-Conti is a totally different beast. Creamy and beautifully
layered in the glass, the 2007 hovers across the palate in stunning style. All
the elements are simply in the right place. A pleasure to taste and drink over
the course of a few hours, the 2007 simply has it all. Some vintages of DRC’s
Montrachet are more mineral-driven while others are more opulent, but few can
match the 2007 for sheer harmony.
Our food is terrific. The roasted chicken is perfectly
cooked. Mashed potatoes, which so often are done without much care, are
absolutely delicious. My small taste of the corned beef sandwich is enough to make me crave more. The Dover sole is delicate yet also full of
flavor. Many of the dishes being served around us are quite tempting.
Mashed Potatoes, Traditional Au Jus and Roasted Garlic
Bruno Giacosa’s 1990
Barbaresco Riserva offers considerable pleasure. One of the hidden gems in the Giacosa
lineup, the 1990 Riserva, made only once, is not a pure single-vineyard wine,
although most of the fruit reputedly came from Santo Stefano. The 1990 has
always been tightly wound for the vintage, but it has softened a bit over the last few years. The aromatics are striking, but the wine remains a bit
compact on the palate, with less of the sweetness and explosive energy of
Giacosa’s very best wines. Still, the 1990 is a very pretty first red wine on
this night. The 1990 Clos La Roche
from Dujac is bold and racy, but it
is also quite pungent, with a distinct stemmy quality and slightly faded fruit.
This bottle is pretty, if a touch advanced.
The 1961 Haut-Brion
is one of the greatest wines I have ever had the privilege of tasting. That’s
all there is to it. Impossibly deep, powerful and expressive, the 1961 stops
all conversation at the table as we become immersed in its infinite beauty. Waves of intense black fruit,
graphite, bacon, plum, tobacco, leather and herbs give the 1961 its remarkable
depth and myriad shades of dimension. The 1961 Haut-Brion is an epic, breathtaking wine in
every way. It’s hard to move on from there. The last wine of the night is Ponsot’s 1971 Clos de La Roche. Racy
and exceptionally beautiful, the 1971 is laced with silky red-fleshed
fruit, striking aromatics and superb persistence, all of which give the wine a super appealing combination of pure sensuality and nuance.
Overall, the food was superb and the wines were epic. Is
there a better way to spend a Wednesday evening with a few close friends? I
doubt it. Next time, though, I’m having the burger.