The Polo Lounge at The Dorchester Rooftop is open until the end of this month, and fortunately, the UK is expecting some more fine weather over the next couple of weeks. Sabi Phagura headed up to the famed Los Angeles restaurant, the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel pop-up at The Dorchester Rooftop to get the low-down.
Weather-talk is one of the most popular conversations you can have with a Briton. According to a survey, they winge about the weather elements up to four times a day. I guess it’s the love-hate relationship we have with it. Still, we like to be outdoors as much as our European counterparts and can’t resist an alfresco meal or coffee. But if you want to wine and dine in style while the weather is still fairly pleasant, why not head off to the Polo Lounge at The Dorchester Rooftop?
Have we mentioned we Brits enjoy a good conversation about the weather? Well, I’ve good reason to mention it here because my booking was unfortunately cancelled, not once, but twice!
‘Due to adverse weather conditions’, I was informed via email a mere few hours ahead of both visits, “the rooftop will be closed.” But, it’s said, “third time’s a charm”, which proved true when was at last, able to enter the gleaming doors belonging to The Dorchester, which has been at the heart of London’s Mayfair since 1931.
With the sun shining in London, walking up the red carpet for a VIP arrival, I could very much have been in California itself. The Beverly Hills Hotel’s iconic banana leaf wallpaper lines the entrance of the rooftop, further allowing guests to step into LA from the moment they enter via the private lift to the ninth floor.
Once up there, you can immerse yourself within the Polo Lounge’s iconic décor, including candy-stripes and pink bougainvillaea flowers. Depending on the time of your visit, guests can enjoy a taste of Tinsel Town to a live band or be treated to the beats played by a DJ (as was in our case) in partnership with Yamaha Music London & Molto Music Group.
It’s the first time ever that the restaurant has held a pop-up. The Polo Lounge at The Dorchester Rooftop was launched in April this year to honour The Dorchester’s 90th anniversary with the Lounge and a series of guest chefs. Known as the epicentre of LA power dining, the Polo Lounge has been the favourite spot for generations of stars and Hollywood deal-makers.
A quick sneaky look around at our fellow diners here in the capital, and they pretty much all looked like stars in their own rights being immaculately turned out.
Perched on the forecourt, the California theme continues outside on the rooftop with canopy seating, a menu inspired by the West Coast with vibrant cocktails to match, and an ice cream stand to keep guests cool in the summer sunshine. We took in the views across Hyde Park before focusing on the food and drinks menu. Personally, I feel the views of the park are some of the best in the whole of the capital.
The most popular signature dish at the Polo Lounge is the McCarthy Salad (above). It is a salad like no other and honours the polo player Neil McCarthy, a regular at The Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1960s. It’s incredibly popular, with almost six hundred McCarthy salads being consumed every week at The Beverly Hills Hotel restaurants and in-room dining.
But it wasn’t a salad my guest Mandy or I had in mind for the evening. We were in the mood for something a bit more substantial. As for cocktails, there was a small selection to choose from, including the Polo Lounge classic the Prickly Paloma, which is a concoction of Tequila, Prickly Pear Grapefruit, Lime and Pink Salt.
On the food front, the menu is not extensive by any means, which is not a bad thing. It makes choosing that little bit easier. But don’t come here if you are on a budget. The prices are sky-high where even the bread selection will set you back £16. But most people don’t come to the Italian-accented American bistro just for the food. They come here for a unique Hollywood experience.
My guest Mandy really was here for the experience as she decided to go all out with the Caviar Ossetra (30g/1oz Potato Blinis, Egg, Red Onion, Chive, Lemon, Crème Fraîche Imperial 180 Baika Imperial). I, on the other hand, chose the humble fried calamari. Mandy relished in her rather small but exquisite looking starter as I indulged in the mound of fishy snacks. The portion could’ve easily been shared among the two.
The mains, or larger plates as they are called here, mainly consist of meat dishes, but there is one vegan option. We both picked fish dishes – Lobster Risotto for Mandy and the Wild Sea Bass with Romesco Sauce for me. Again, the portions are huge but come solo, and sides have to be ordered separately. I ordered the grilled broccolini and parmesan truffle fries to go with my fish to balance things out.
The whole meal was delicious, filling and wholesome and definitely worth having fasted for 18 hours. Yes, the meal was lovely, the atmosphere delightful, waiters relaxed and friendly, but was the food worth the price tag?
It was perhaps a tad too much for the choice on offer, in my opinion. But the Polo Lounge experience was definitely a good one and one that I am likely to talk about many times when the opportunity arises in the future. People don’t come here for the food. It really is about the whole unique experience.
What will most certainly crank up the bill at the Polo Lounge are the drinks. All the cocktails are £20; even a small bottle of beer will cost you £10, while the cheapest bottle of plonk will set you back £84.
But a trip here for most is all about sampling the high life to mark a special occasion – especially for us mere mortals – or to rub shoulders with the in-crowd if you’re trying to make your mark in such a circle. But when most of us have been in lockdown for so long, just getting out of the house to dine seems like a special occasion in itself.
Polo Lounge at The Dorchester Rooftop Information
The Polo Lounge at The Dorchester Rooftop is at 45 Park Lane, London. The rooftop will run through until the end of September, open daily from 12 pm to 11 pm Monday to Saturday, and 12 pm to 10:30 pm on Sunday.
Visits are strictly through reservations only and with a minimum spend of £60 per person. Bookings can be made via [email protected] or on 020 7629 8888.
For more details, please visit www.dorchestercollection.com.
Read more dining and socialising features here.