“I’ve always been a contrarian, that’s who I am as a person, an artist, [and] a chef,” says Angie Mar, chef and proprietor of Les Trois Chevaux. In 2021, the famed Beatrice Inn owner and chef opened her next project, a luxe yet charming French eatery on a historic West Village corner. While this pocket of Manhattan teems with excellent places to eat, it’s Mar’s intrinsic contrarianess that distinguishes her latest restaurant from the rest.
“I wanted to create a menu that was extraordinary,” Mar says of Les Trois Chevaux’s offerings. A year in, Mar is hitting her stride, melding her Chinese heritage with French cuisine, which she’s loved since she was eight. “It’s very interesting as a woman and woman of color to be cooking the food I’m cooking now,” she says. “Traditionally, I wouldn’t have even been let into a French [brigade] system. To cook at this level is tremendously exciting. We’re taking risks, taking diners on a journey.”
Rather than characterizing Les Trois Chevaux as intensely seasonal, Mar refers to her style of cuisine as “hyper inspirational.” She cooks what’s in peak season, but maintains the utmost creativity throughout every element in each course. Case in point: no ingredient repeats itself on the menu. “What vexes me to no end is when it’s ramp season and [there are] ramps on every dish,” Mar admits. “For me, if there are mussels on one dish, they won’t be used in another. If there are leeks, they won’t be on another. Each dish is very special and has its own personality.”
At Les Trois Chevaux, a dish may be on the menu for a week, or a month. “It’s wonderful because everything is always changing,” Mar says. “I think it’s really important that restaurants like mine are putting things on the menu that may bring diners out of their comfort zones a bit and try something new,” Mar says. “There are places to eat and places to dine, mine is the latter.”
Les Trois Chevaux’s food is far from fusion—like most chefs, Mar despises that word. Instead, there are riffs on flavors and ingredients from her Chinese culture, decades of French technique from Mar’s professional life, and all the artistic inspiration she absorbs in New York City. A late summer cannoli is made with a crystal-clear tapioca flour wrapper, which coddles bivalves Mar curated from three parts of the globe. “When you eat it, you’re eating the ocean,” she says. “There’s a romanticism, there’s a whimsy to the food that I think is very special.”
Open to submission
Mar likens her cooking and service style to omakase—diners can trust the chef to surprise them with a delightful and inspired seasonal menu. Les Trois Chevaux’s eight-course chef’s tasting menu ($350) is “tremendously special for people who are willing to submit themselves to an amazing dining experience,” according to her. Every menu is different and not just determined by Mar—her team first speaks to diners to discover their preferences and dislikes and reports to Mar in the kitchen, where she curates an entire experience. Mar wants New Yorkers to be open to this style of dining, no matter the cuisine or the chef steering the food.
“As diners, [we] have no problem resigning ourselves to having that omakase-style experience when it comes to Japanese food…but outside of that world, we’re not resigned to leaving the experience in other people’s hands,” Mar says. “I think some of the best dining experiences come from allowing ourselves to be completely open and present to the experience in front of us. The more people who can take that out of the Japanese dining experience but apply it…everywhere else, we’ll have a more interesting dining culture.”
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner is a writer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. You can follow her on Instagram @melissabethk and Twitter @melissabethk