Maxim’s the old-world boîte that catered to the international jet-set in the Belle Époque-era defined how to bring together the power players of their day with style and elegance. Fast-forward to 2006 and the (re)arrival of West Village institution, The Beatrice Inn. Originally a speakeasy during its heyday of the 1920s, the early 2000s were defined by every “It Girl” and cool kid of the period including Olsens and shipping heirs. And at last night’s revival of the spot, now called Le B., chef and owner Angie Mar curated a guest list worthy of its modern iteration—think designers (Christian Siriano), gastronomic icons (Andre Jammet), and prolific writers (Jay McInerney). But don’t think that the same shenanigans and 5 a.m. exits are going to repeat themselves. “Le B. is absolutely not the Beatrice Inn,” says Mar. “[It] has the same wonderful energy and joie de vivre…[but with] definitely more of an old school downtown vibe.”
Inside, Le B.’s interior takes cues from its predecessor—it’s housed in the former Les Trois Chevaux space—but with more louche flavors. “It’s darker, it’s sexier, it’s not trying too hard, but it’s just extra enough,” says Mar. The ‘extra’ wattage comes in the form of a new chandelier sourced from Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall a slicker version of the glittering one previously from the Waldorf=Astoria. Taking in the scene were a cavalcade of VOGUE editors, New York society, and culinary power players all nibbling on elegant bites.
The menu follows suit with a smattering of favorites from the chef and owner herself. “I never cook anything I don’t love though,” says Mar in her signature droll tone. “There's several dishes that I think will become instant Le B. classics, such as the Bird’s Nest Soup, the Salade “Chinoise”, the Pheasant a la King and the Crab Wellington.” However, if there’s one dish that exemplifies the spirit and style of Le B., it’s the sturgeon Charlemagne, a Mar original that’s similar to a mille-feuille but filled with layers of smoked sturgeon, crème fraîche mousseline, and topped with, what else, caviar.
As for Mar’s goals with her new space, it’s quite simple, to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible with equally divine cuisine. “I realized I had something very special when a few months into my ownership of the Beatrice, Diane Von Furstenberg was hosting a party, and I came around the corner, only to find her and Valentino, who was in his emerald green tuxedo, dining lavishly on roast duck with their hands,” says Mar. “This is it. This is New York.” As for the soundtrack, Mar knows exactly what song exemplifies Beatrice, past, present, and future. “Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison. Everyone who really knew the original Beatrice, and anyone who really knows me, would probably agree.”
Hero image: Brendon Cook/BFA.com