New York City Chef Angie Mar Talks About Her New Restaurant
Angie Mar is an anomaly in the fast-paced world of the hottest New York City restaurants, famous for her menu of carnivores’ delights at the now closed Beatrice Inn, which she brought to Hong Kong in December 2019 for a brief but memorable run. While the trendy winds might now be blowing towards more plant-based menus and haute veganism (just try to book a table at Eleven Madison Park), Mar is going in a very different direction with her new restaurant, Les Troix Chevaux, which pays tribute to the great formal French restaurants of past eras. Think confit of frogs’ legs and mousse of veal’s brain, or a pigeon roasted in ash and served with sakura blossoms and aged armagnac if you are feeling decadent.
Mar’s dream is to create a restaurant that can stand the test of time, while also honouring her heritage. Les Trois Chevaux—the three horses—is a reference to the nickname her father gave to Mar and her two brothers, playing on the proximity of their surname to the Chinese word for horse. She has also assembled an all-star cast of collaborators, including designer Christian Siriano, who dressed the staff, and Raul Avila, who is designing the flowers. But most important to Mar is her original staff of 27, all of whom followed her from the Beatrice.
“Over the last year and a half, there was never a second thought but to make sure everybody’s able to pay their rent and feed their children,” Mar says. “This is a testament to keeping the family together. What I’ve learned is how much New York means to me. And if I don’t invest in the revitalisation of the city, then I have no right to call myself a New Yorker. And that’s just it.”
The interior was designed by Brenda Bello and Joel Medina from BWArchitects (Photo: William Hereford)
Ilera (1972) by Leonor Fini hangs above the bar (Photo: William Hereford)
Dishes like terrine de canard and ormeau au feu and cocktails recall French classics (Photo: William Hereford)
Cocktails recall French classics (Photo: William Hereford)
After such a terrible year, why open a new restaurant so soon?
It’s funny, because I actually wanted to open in April, but with construction, it just got a bit delayed. The Beatrice remained open during the whole pandemic. We just really tried to stay open for our community and for our employees as long as we could.
And what is the new concept of Les Trois Chevaux?
After years of cooking the same food, which has been lovely, it becomes hard because you want to continue to grow and to evolve. Deciding to do something different was probably one of the most liberating experiences that I’ve ever had, because this is the first restaurant that I’m starting from a truly blank canvas. We are going to be more fine dining, with a prix-fixe menu and food that is a complete 180 from what I was doing before. But the biggest change is that I’m actually not opening with a steak on the menu—there is beef on the menu for sure, just not a steak, per se. The concept of Les Trois Chevaux is very close to my heart, because I always say that I’m a very old French man just trapped in this body, but there is also the side of my heritage that is Chinese. I’m taking ingredients from my childhood—cherry blossoms and abalone and Japanese baby peaches—and treating them in a very French way.
Do you still come up with your dishes through creative word association and fashion inspirations?
Absolutely. I wanted this restaurant to be very much all about artisans, because they are the driving force behind what makes New York so amazing. But the food is going to be plated in a much different way. The creativity is the same, but the aesthetic might be a little bit different.
Why are you opening next door to your former restaurant?
Well, I’ve wanted this space for eight years. I thought it might be a bit like seeing an ex-boyfriend every morning on your way to work, but it’s not. There are a lot of great memories there, but the building’s falling apart.
What’s it like being in New York today?
It’s very much a double-edged sword, just by nature of my heritage and being in America right now. There are a lot of really terrible things that are happening, but the wonderful thing about New York right now is the energy is tremendously palpable in the best way. I was maybe becoming a bit disillusioned with the city pre-pandemic, because it was becoming more about how much money you had, and new people didn’t really understand the soul of the city. Those people weren’t tough like those of us who’ve been here in the city for a while. Now you see this re-emergence of artists, literature, actors and chefs, and that feels like the New York that I fell in love with 20 years ago.
What surprises are in store in the new restaurant?
I think that New York is ready to really indulge in a bit of glamour. We’ve all been stuck in the house for the past year and a half, so I wanted to bring back that moment when I used to sit at [now closed Tribeca hotspot] The Harrison and drink martinis and eat cow’s liver, and everybody was so chic. [Les Trois Chevaux has a jackets-only policy for men, and a collection of vintage YSL blazers on hand for those who forget.] That was when there was romance in the city, so this will be a new experience for those who haven’t been here that long, and a welcome return for those of us who are lifelong New Yorkers.