Stepping inside the gilded double doors at Privé Lounge in Andover is like slipping into a portal to a chic international party. Dark walls and low lights highlight the striking art, enhanced by a chill global soundtrack, while stylish couples and groups lounge in front of the slick fireplace or on jungle-green Art-Deco banquettes. The vibe would fit right in in Hong Kong, or Milan, or New York.
The menu is similarly placeless in the best way, assembling luxurious bites from around the world into a small plate fantasy, from Russian caviar service to deviled eggs ramped up with black truffles. The global cocktail list is organized by spirit, featuring a selection of high-end bottles, from mezcal to Japanese whisky, neat or in innovative cocktails developed by beverage director Michael Fields and lead bartender Derek Ho.
Privé is the newest concept from Paul LaRosa, who also owns La Fina next door, and LaRosa’s Café and Bar down the street. Privé is La Fina’s sultry sibling—where La Fina is expansive and gleaming white, Privé is intimate and brooding, with that green banquette curving snakelike along one wall. Both spaces have an arch framing the bar, evoking a cocktail tableau.
Join in the tableau at the bar or sit at an intimate table with a cocktail and the truffled deviled eggs. The veritable umami bomb of flavors and textures in the deviled egg deserves to be paired with something light on its feet, like the Reforma, a sweet-sour blend of Espolon tequila, pear brandy, lemon, and honey syrup. Or if you want to go all-in with savory, explore the Kiss Miso Irish. Perfect for a chic St. Patrick’s Day, it is a daring blend of Dead Rabbit Irish whiskey and a ginger-miso syrup that gives the cocktail a toasty richness.
Executive chef Ashley LaRose clearly enjoys gilding the lily when it comes to interpreting classics. Take scallops wrapped in bacon—usually served on a diminutive toothpick, her Colossal Scallops instead require a knife and fork to eat politely. Each one in the serving of three is nearly two inches across, treated like a filet mignon with a thick slice of apple-smoked bacon wrapped around the sides. Rather than a straight steakhouse treatment, it is topped with crushed peanuts and a sweet chili glaze, bringing Asian influences to bear.
The Lobster Sliders play with another classic in a new and luxurious way. Fresh-shucked lobster is dressed in a miso-honey butter, then cushioned in a pillowy house-made brioche roll, and topped with a pop of roe for added texture. The lobster is luscious and tender, and the toppings accentuate the crustacean’s sweetness without overpowering it.
If you’re having trouble choosing from all the small plates, order the Fritto Misto—a selection of five of Privé’s small plates, available to serve two or four people. Akin to a luxurious global platter, the offerings include spicy wagyu spring rolls, tender and moist tempura chicken served with a house-made duck sauce, crisp tuna tacos dotted with a hot Calabrian chili aioli, shoestring French fries dusted with a spicy Japanese chili blend called togarashi, and rich, moist bao buns stuffed with short ribs marinated in XO sauce, a rich condiment that is a staple in Hong Kong.
At press time, the menu was strictly small plates and sharables, but with a common kitchen and pedigree, there is likely some room for cross over in the future, with a few meaty options from La Fina next door.
Desserts change weekly and might include a selection of gelatos, served between house-made pizzelle cookies for a giant ice cream sandwich, or a lush sticky-toffee pudding. Or you may just want to dive further into the cocktail list, for the tiki-inspired Welcome to the Jungle, featuring rhum agricole and smoked Campari.
The kitchen closes at 9:30, which might seem early for an international hot spot, but really that’s just to make room for the party. Weekends bring a live DJ who gets people on their feet and dancing wherever there’s space—giving you an excuse to linger on the other side of the gilded doors, cocktail in hand, for just a few hours more.
27 Main St., Andover, 978-475-4082, theprivelounge.com