After developing and operating over 20 successful restaurant concepts such as Bestia, Petty Cash, République and Otium, restaurateur Bill Chait repeats his success with Tesse, his newest endeavor on Sunset.
Tesse is a play on the French word “délicatesse,” meaning delicacy, and as the name suggests, the restaurant’s offerings are luxurious. The contemporary menu, led by Michelin-starred executive chef Raphael Francois and award-winning pastry chef Sally Camacho Mueller, features a European twist influenced by Francois’ years in Belgium and France.
It’s a thoughtful restaurant the minute you walk inside and notice the sleek modern design by Alexis Readinger of Preen, Inc. A teak bar, tan leather banquettes, wood and cork ceiling, and 3D-checkered and rose-colored cinder block walls add a sense of warmth and intimacy throughout the main dining space.
The restaurant also includes the attached Boutellier wine shop. Managing partner and wine director Jordan Ogron opened this unique wine store to bring rare and affordable wines to Los Angeles. During the evening, this wine store, typically lined with bottles, is transformed into a private dining room for receptions or private dinners.
Ogron’s wine list features a lengthy list of bottle selections and nearly 30 wines by the glass that come in 3-ounce pours, which allow guests to enjoy multiple varieties. Diners can also have a traditional full pour as well.
Before diving into the wine, I enjoyed a craft cocktail called Date Night designed by Nick Meyer and Julian Cox. It was a refreshing vodka-based beverage enhanced with date syrup and cranberry juice. It paired deliciously with our starter, a long wooden board featuring pâtés, terrines, rillettes, sausages and dates with thick slices of bread and whole grain mustard.
A beef tartare dish with a twist arrived next. It was mixed with caper berries and chopped shallots on a grana Padano cheese crisp, and topped with shaved cheese and a sprinkling of chive aioli.
I also enjoyed the bowl of colorful radicchio and kale leaves sprinkled with thin peach slices, corn kernels and goat cheese. It was dressed with a pleasing beer vinaigrette and paired with a beautiful Frostwatch Library Release 2014 chardonnay. The wine, a barrel-fermented blend with notes of red apple, lemon, lime and orange peel, offered a rich, silky taste with a touch of French oak.
This wine also went well with the ethereal plump ravioli filled with Parmesan cheese, sweet currants and sautéed herbs.
The burrata starter was another standout. The dish was topped with Oregon porcini duxelles, or finely chopped mushrooms with shallots, herbs and black pepper sautéed in butter and reduced to a paste. I grabbed a piece of bread and spread the heavenly mixture on top.
For my entrée, a plate of beautifully cooked French classic skirt steak was set in front of me. The protein was cooked on a wood-fired hearth before it was topped with a rich Bordelaise sauce, watercress, sliced grapes and shallots. Delicious!
Camacho Mueller’s dessert wrapped up the evening with one final highlight – her duck egg crème brûlée. I assumed it would be savory, but instead the creamy custard base was sweetened with muscovado, a molasses-flavored sugar from Mauritius with a strong lingering flavor. A crisp almond tuile cookie and powdered sugar dusting on top of the beautiful and light burnt cream rounded out the dish.
Enjoying the dinner so much, I returned with my husband to Tesse for brunch. We started off with Camacho Mueller’s chocolate croissant, fresh fruit Danish and banana loaf to share around the table. All were exquisite.
While enjoying the new brunch offerings, we glanced at the daytime cocktail menu, which includes for java lovers the Drip Club made with vodka, demerara (a dark rumfermented cane sugar from Guyana) and coffee. The Tesse Bellini features a pour of Champagne and peaches, and the refreshing Gin Fizz Tropicale is a mix of Sunday gin, orgeat syrup, pineapple and lime.
Per our friendly server’s recommendations, we started with the fresh red beet and carrot juice, and the kale, celery and green apple juice. We also followed her suggestion to order the grapefruit brûlée, a ruby red grapefruit sprinkled with muscovado sugar on top and then torched to form a caramelized layer. The blushing red sections burst juicy sweetness with each spoonful.
The main courses in Francois and Camacho Mueller’s brunch menu, however, are quite special. Francois’ smoked salmon Benedict is topped with an exquisite herb hollandaise and pickled tomatoes. Instead of English muffins, the eggs sit on two slices of house-made buttery brioche bread.
When the Frenchy “pizza” was delivered, Francois came to our table to prepare the dish tableside. Two grilled crêpes were topped with olive oil, ricotta cheese, garlicky pesto, marinated tomato confit, crispy prosciutto and French cheese shavings for a unique and savory crêpe pizza.
The Tesse burger is another brunch favorite. It’s made with braised short rib instead of ground beef and topped with a thick, crispy onion ring. Baby bibb lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and house-made ketchup round out the burger, as well as a handful of duck fat fries.
For those hoping to explore Tesse’s delicious delicacies, there’s plenty to go around – the restaurant has also expanded next door with Tesse Cafe & Bakery.
Tesse is open for dinner daily from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tesse Cafe & Bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with weekday lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 8500 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310)360-3866.
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