Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.
Congratulations are in order for Chef Angie Mar. In August of this year, she purchased Beatrice Inn—the West Village restaurant where she’s been at the helm since 2013—from Graydon Carter. In one month, she took what she built in those three years, revamped it even further, and transformed the menu to completely reflect her vision. Two weeks ago, Pete Wells of The New York Times gave the new Bea a glowing two star review. We’ve brought in our friends and colleagues to experience her food, and most of them say it’s one of the best meals they’ve ever had, in New York or anywhere. For Angie Mar, things can’t get much better.
But that, of course, is not the way Chef Mar thinks. She’s constantly looking to learn, build and improve upon her menu, which we believe is already pretty damn close to perfection. She’s an expert butcher who understands meat better than anyone and has mastered techniques from cuisines worldwide to bring out the flavors and textures we should be experiencing when we consume animal flesh. Chef Mar’s Beatrice Inn is the kind of elegant chophouse where it’s okay to eat with your hands because leaving one piece of her expertly prepared animal flesh clinging to the bone would be a travesty. The thoughtfulness that goes into everything from the food to the service makes it one of the most memorable dinners you could hope to have.
After our most recent dining experience at the Beatrice Inn, we chatted with Chef Mar about the best duck we’ve ever eaten, who she’d love to cook for, and what it’s like to call the restaurant her own.
You took over Beatrice Inn kitchen three years ago. And with the recent purchase of the restaurant, it has truly become your own. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned working at the Bea these last three years? How about in the last three months?
I am thrilled at the purchase of the Bea and am looking forward to such a bright future for this restaurant. If I have learned anything over the past few years and especially the past few months, it’s the reinforcement and value of family. My kitchen crew has always been my family, as has my staff. With the purchase of The Bea, it’s been about keeping it in the family and growing everyone together.
What new dishes are you most excited about? How about the old favorites—which couldn’t you bear to leave behind?
I spent the entirety of August in the kitchen recipe testing with my team and I am so excited and honored that each and every person had a hand in the creation of the menu. Our staple dishes such as the Dry Aged Burger and Milk Braised Pork Shoulder remain on the menu unchanged because they are such integral parts of this place and of my childhood. The dishes that I am tremendously excited about are things such as the Champvallon de Tete and the Roast Duck Flambé.
The Roast Duck Flambé is one of the best dishes we’ve ever tried. Can you take us through the five-day process of preparing that bird?
Thank you, it’s a dish that we are incredibly excited about! I wanted it to have the lacquered look of ducks that hang in the windows of Chinatown, but have the smokiness of the duck that my family makes for our Sunday suppers. We cure the ducks for five days in salt and then slowly smoke them with hickory wood. They then get roasted slowly for hours until their fat renders and the skin is moist.
If you could serve a dish to anyone—dead or alive—at the new Bea, who would it be? What courses would you serve him or her?
I’d love to serve Escoffier. I’d take away all the utensils and we’d eat beef and game meats with our hands.
Photos by Dave Katz