A French restaurant with a downtown twist opens in NYC under chef Angie Mar

A French restaurant with a downtown twist opens in NYC under chef Angie Mar
Courtesy of OpenTable

Her French stunner leaves steaks aside as she opens it up.

A gruesome pandemic-era lease negotiations caused Angeline Mar to shut down the iconic New York restaurant The Beatrice Inn on the last day of 2020, shuttering her iconic restaurant. As soon as the chef found a new landlord and signed a lease for an empty restaurant space right next door to The Beatrice, she was fully committed to honoring the hedonistic spirit and history of the place.

There are no steaks on Mar's menu, either. With Les Trois Chevaux opening this week, she has permanently taken down neon lights, been swirling parties, served pork shoulder and smoked Manhattans. At Les Trois Chevaux, she won't have to worry about steaks on the menu.

In November last year, the morning after The New York Times reported that the restaurant was closing, Mar received a note from the French culinary god, Jacques Pepin, who is Mar's friend and mentor. There is a lot of support from Jacques, but he very rarely gives advice-real advice, like what I mean when I say that Jacques gives. It was Pepin who advised her not to open the Beatrice Inn next door, but rather to believe in herself enough to open a restaurant bearing her own name. She had to move forward.

Courtesy of Resy

The name Mar in Chinese is translated as "horse," and as a child, she and her two brothers were known collectively as "the three horses," which she translated to French to give the restaurant its name.

After looking around at all the losses last year and feeling energy gradually returning to the city, Mar decided to build a space that would represent the great French restaurants of New York's past, such as Le Côte Basque, Lutèce, Le Cirque, and La Grenouille, as well as the high-end, luxurious dining she remembers from a couple of decades ago, before the athleisure trend took over.

Despite the fact that Les Trois Chevaux is a pre-fixe restaurant, it's reservation-only, even at the bar. There is a menu that is three-course, pre-fixe, but Mar claims it's more like five to seven courses, depending on how ambitious she is. Yves Saint Laurent jackets are compulsory for men, and Christian Siriano outfitted the restaurant's servers, bartenders, and hostesses with Christian Siriano outfits. It is a painting by Pepin that hangs in the dining room, and it is a part of a collection that also includes Banksy and a Picasso etching.

It was also important for Mar to create a space that represented New York, both in terms of bringing together fellow creatives who are responsible for bringing her to the city in the first place, as well as lifelong New Yorkers-those who did not leave the city in the last year to go hide in the Hamptons.

Courtesy of Michelin Guide

As part of her collaboration with BWArchitects, Mar tapped local stone and wood workers and craftsmen such as Marcello Bavaro, an artist from Brooklyn, who restored the Mona Lisa's frame. As part of the installation, they used chandeliers salvaged from the Waldorf Astoria and Raul Avila, the Met Gala event designer, is responsible for weekly floral arrangements, as well as deeply personal touches. This room features a blue velvet banquette and antique horse lamps that are reminiscent of pieces once found in the family home of her father. There are also Chinese vases that recall the blue velvet banquette and the sweatshirt her dad wore often.

The Beatrice, its legacy, and her own success have cinched Mar, a chef-as-force-of-nature who has never conformed to industry trends with her food and style.

Mar's cooking is still recognizable to Beatrice fans: decadence, mischief, fire, storytelling, family, Francophilia. A carving station serves roast pheasant and a croissant laced with black and white truffles and accompanied by golden osetra caviar in homage to André-Soltner. In addition to confit French frog legs, she offers them poached in champagne beurre blanc and confit in duck fat. There is a whole foie gras lobe that is baked at the restaurant and is served with peeled Muscadet grapes that have been macerated in Cognac, as well as sauces that are put on the table freshly by the servers.

The menu for the restaurant was created by Mar based on historical dishes and modified to reflect her vision of New York dining. Her poitrine de pigeon en croute de cendre is inspired by French game and hunting traditions. Rather than wrapping pigeon breast in grape leaves and baking it en cocotte, a dish that may have been enjoyed by French nobility, Mar's pigeon is wrapped in cherry blossom leaves and buried in ash before being baked. It is served with wild mushrooms and Armagnac sauce, broken apart tableside.

In addition to the abalone she grew up eating on the West Coast of the United States, the ormeau au feu, also known as abalone on fire, is one of Mar's more elemental dishes. This dish was inspired by the Norman tradition that involved collecting planks from shipwrecks a long time ago. In order to roast the bivalves, resourceful cooks buried the wooden boards in dry pine needles, doused them with alcohol, and ignited the wood in order to kill them.

The French still practice the cooking method, and it can be practiced without shipwrecks. Sea roasted abalone and Chartreuse-brushed squid are served directly over a fire and the plate is topped with a leek and vermouth créme that evokes the foam that accumulates at the shore as waves crash and roll.

It is rounded out by a rich wine list with a heavy focus on Burgundy and Champagne. The bar director Antanas Samkas has also curated a great collection of rare Chartreuse, Armagnac, as well as an array of eight different martinis that you can enjoy as well.

There will be multiple desserts served on a nightly basis by Mar, small bites so that diners do not have to pick just one. Expect homemade Armagnac madeleines and towers of croquembouche.

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