The Polly experience gets off to a bit of an odd start. Patrons enter via the smoking area, which is filled with potted plants and Greco-Roman statues and looks a lot like an upmarket garden centre. There’s a reason smoking areas aren’t normally treated as a feature – more of a dirty secret out the back – but it makes some sense here considering that the bar features a humidor filled with quality cigars, which certainly don’t lend themselves to a furtive puff out by the trashcans. When what you’re smoking comes with tasting notes, it’s only fitting to smoke it in a nice environment, which in Polly’s case means perching between statues of naked wrestlers and ladies in robes.
Inside the bar proper, the light is low and the surroundings opulent; rich red walls, chandeliers, and a clutter of deep leather armchairs, velvet barstools and chaise longues. Nudes and reproduction pre-Raphaelites in ornate gold frames adorn the walls, coat racks are crammed in where nothing else will fit, and the overall impression is a little like stumbling into a large and extremely elegant attic. An attic with table service as standard, that is. The lengthy red and gold bound menu runs to many pages of very good cocktails, of which we recommend giving the Mistress a whirl. A respectable range of teas and virgin cocktails are available for drivers; the champagne is served in silver ice buckets and they’re rather proud of their absinthe collection. Food is available, though it’s considerably less of a strong point – pizzas are a reasonable $6.
For all its dim lighting and rich fittings, Polly is a bit too large and overwhelming to be described as cosy. But what it arguably lacks in appeal as a date bar it makes up as an excellent venue for hosting parties. It’s large, it’s plush, and reservations are readily available. If you’re partying with a crowd, Polly deserves your consideration.