The Polo Bar,Ralph Lauren’s brand-new restaurant in Midtown. The bilevel space opened during the bitter days of winter for invitation-only previews and to a universally warm reception; almost immediately thereafter it became the kind of hot place where even knowing the secret email is no guarantee of booking a table any time soon or even a seat at the bar.
Yet apex feeders aren’t fussed about pretty gatekeepers shooing tourists away from the Polo Bar’s portals, standing guard with reservation lists studded with famous names and iPads bearing photo cues for identifying the kind of people too busy being powerful to bother cultivating face recognition. Big leaguers don’t need to wear a Michael Bloomberg mask to gain entry, because in all likelihood they are the former mayor of New York.
“Where else can you go that’s buzzy and cozy that has great comfort food and is truly chic?” Lynn Nesbit asked one evening. Frenetic as ever, Ms. Nesbit flitted among tables where the author Renata Adler was sitting — elegant snowy braid looking just as it did in the famous Avedon photo — and Vera Wang was with a group of female pals taking selfies and in a corner booth Mr. Lauren sat surveying the scene he’d created, magisterial as the Grand Poobah in his black jeans and turtleneck and with an enormous silver concha belt slung around his hips.
“The second you walk in, you’re greeted at this beautiful bar, with the silver buckets of wine and waiters looking perfect and bowls of fried olives,”
“It’s tradition with flair,” Ralph Lauren said, by way of encapsulating his ethos. “It’s not just tradition.” I’m about longevity, I’m about timeless,” Mr. Lauren said, sipping a cup of his own brand of coffee. “It was not my idea to be trendy. I don’t want to be the hot restaurant. I want to be the restaurant you want to go to twice a week.”