For Angie Mar, food and fashion have always gone hand in hand: “When I was a kid, I used to go into my mom’s room and borrow the magazines on her dresser. I would take Vogue, Gourmet, and Food & Wine and page through them in my pillow fort.” Fast-forward to 2019, and she is now the chef/owner of New York City’s sexiest (and meatiest) restaurant, the Beatrice Inn.
A 2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef and darling of New York Times restaurant critics, Mar just released her first cookbook, Butcher and Beast: Mastering the Art of Meat. The hulking tome is a raw tribute to her storied eatery, each page resembling a macabre Vogue spread. It’s a who’s who of the food industry, with everyone dripping in couture and gnawing on rib-eye bones. It’s smoky, lively and messy. It’s the Beatrice Inn.
When the opportunity arose to run the kitchen here in 2013, Mar was skeptical. At the time, she was working as executive sous chef of the Spotted Pig under April Bloomfield and knew of the Bea’s reputation. “It was a place to see and be seen,” she says, “but it was not about the food.” Situated in the underbelly of a West Village row house, the restaurant has been a New York City institution since the 1920s. Everyone from Zelda Fitzgerald to Kate Moss has cozied up in its plush leather booths, but the Bea’s A-list clientele and raucous late-night parties had made it a leper in the village. Mar thought she had to be crazy to take it on — but also crazy not to.
Six years into her tenure (and three years into ownership), Mar has made the eatery her own. The food here is not for the faint of heart — quite literally. The air is filled with the aroma of charred meat and fresh herbs (according to Mar, the only green thing she likes). Elegantly dressed servers carry vintage silver trays with hefty roasts and flambéed ducks. Locals and visitors sidle up to the bar for Manhattans served under smoke-filled crystal cloches.
“I don’t cook anything I don’t love to eat,” Mar exclaims. “Growing up in my family, there was meat on the table every single night. It’s what I crave, it’s what I think about when I wake up, it’s my midnight snack before I go to bed.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a vegetable on her menu — or at least one that’s not cooked in duck fat. Even the dessert is served in hollow bones and imbued with marrow.
But don’t be fooled: A meal at the Bea isn’t just a monstrous piece of meat on a plate. There’s a softness, almost a romanticism to Mar’s food. A masculine and feminine duality at play in every ingredient and technique. The 160-day whiskey-aged tomahawk comes basted in sweet lobster butter and scented with truffles and smoked vanilla, while the braised meaty oxtails are softened with Madeira and stewed prunes. Each dish is thoughtfully composed and artfully presented.
Bucking seasonality trends, Mar’s menu isn’t overwhelmed with ramps in the spring or stone fruit come summer. Instead, she turns to what inspires her personally: art, music, fashion. “When I’m working on a menu, I disappear into my own world: living at the Met’s exhibits, flipping through art books, watching runway shows from Dior, Galliano and Yves Saint Laurent on repeat,” she says.
Mar herself embodies the dichotomy you see in her food, oscillating between crisp chef’s whites and a sleek Dolce & Gabbana sheath dress with sky-high Louboutins. Her lavish, celebratory approach to life is seen in every aspect of the smoky, sexy, sultry hangout that is the Beatrice Inn. “My style is over-the-top,” she declares. “The atmosphere, the decor and the portion size at the Bea are intentionally extravagant. I say, Let them eat cake.”
Oxtail with Madeira, Mash and Prunes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Be it the middle of winter or a scorching summer day, chef Angie Mar will never take this dish off the menu at the Beatrice Inn. “Oxtail has the perfect fat-to-meat ratio,” she explains. “Take it about 20 minutes past the point where you think it’s done; I promise some alchemy makes the oxtail throw up its last flag and submit into its final juicy, succulent, silken state.”
5 pounds large oxtail
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, halved lengthwise
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 bunch rosemary
1 cup Banyuls vinegar
1½ cups white wine
15 pitted prunes
8 cups chicken stock
1½ cups Madeira wine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
¾ cup whole milk
⅔ cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs removed and leaves cut into ribbons
1. For the braise, season oxtail generously with salt and arrange on a quarter sheet pan or large plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over moderately high heat. Working in batches, add oxtail and cook, turning, until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, reserving any rendered fat.
3. In the same pot over moderately high heat, cook shallots and garlic until blistered and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and fry until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to plate with oxtail.
4. Pour off fat. Add vinegar and deglaze pot over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce vinegar until sticky and coats the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Return oxtail, shallots, garlic and rosemary to pot and add white wine, 5 prunes and just enough stock to cover by ½ inch. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Press a round piece of parchment paper onto surface of braise then cover with a lid. Transfer oxtail to oven and braise until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2½ hours.
6. While the oxtail braises, make the mash. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and season with 1 Tbsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until knife-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Add milk and cream, and mash with a large spoon until velvety with some lumps remaining. Add butter and season with salt. Fold in kale until just wilted. Cover and keep warm.
7. When meat is finished, transfer to a large bowl and cover loosely with foil, adding some braising liquid so it doesn’t dry out. Strain remaining braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid and flavor as possible. Discard solids.
8. Return braising liquid to pot. Bring to a boil then add Madeira. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer until reduced by three-quarters, about 20 minutes. Return oxtail to sauce, add remaining 10 prunes and gently simmer to heat through, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in butter until melted. Serve the oxtail with the mash.
Reprinted with permission from Butcher and Beast: Mastering the Art of Meat by Angie Mar with Jamie Feldmar, copyright © 2019. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.