Tesse is Terrific on Sunset

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.

The new dynamic duo Michelin-starred Executive chef/partner Raphael Francois and award winning partner/pastry chef Sally Camacho Mueller make quite a team at Tesse on Sunset. Chef Raphael worked with Marcus Mueller (Sally’s husband) and when the idea of Tesse came about, Raphael knew Sally would make a perfect partner.

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Tesse is a play on the French word “delicatesse,” meaning delicacy. It’s a thoughtful restaurant the minute you walk inside and notice Alexis Readinger of Preen, Inc., design. It’s modern with a teak bar, soft tan leather banquettes, a beautiful wood and cork ceiling, and interesting 3-D patterned rose colored cinder block walls throughout the main dining space.

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The first time I dined at Tesse was last year while attending a private dinner in the attached Boutellier wine room. Managing partner and wine director Jordan Organ opened this unique wine store and named Boutellier – a French title given to one in charge of the King’s wine. The logo of this space is a key, representing the only person with a key to the King’s cellar.

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Ogron travelled the world exploring unique partnerships with wineries, and brought hard to find and affordable wines to Los Angeles. During the evening, this wine store lined with bottles, is transformed into a private dining room for standing receptions or private seated dinners. 

Ogron’s wine list features nearly thirty wines by the glass that come in 3 oz. pours, and a list of thousands of bottle selections.  The 3 oz. pours enable guests to enjoy multiple varieties, however if diners prefer a traditional pour they can tell their server.

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They also offer two corkage policies. If you purchase wine at Boutellier, it may be opened in Tesse for $15 per bottle, no bottle maximum. All other wines will be charged at $30 per bottle for the first and second bottles, and $50 per bottle for the third and fourth bottles with a four bottle maximum.

The contemporary dinner menu offers a European twist that is influenced by chef Raphael’s recipe that he learned to make while growing up in Belgium and France. This esteemed chef has a resume that includes Michelin-starred dining establishments in Brussels, Paris and London. He cooked at Le Cirque in New York and Le DeSales in Washington DC. Now the bearded chef lives near the restaurant and gets around Los Angeles on a BIRD electric scooter to go to the Farmers Market.

Before drinking wine, I enjoyed a craft cocktail named Date Night designed by Nick Meyer and Julian Cox. It was a refreshing vodka based beverage enhanced with date syrup and cranberry juice. I sipped it while enjoying French specialities displayed on a long wooden board with thick slices of bread and whole grain mustard. There were pâtés, terrines, rillettes, saucisses and dates. 

Chef Raphael next sent to our table a classic beef tartare with a twist. It was mixed with caper berries, chopped shallots, on a Grana Padano cheese crisp with shaved cheese and a sprinkling of chive aioli.

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Bowls of colorful radicchio and kale leave had thin slices of peach, kernels of corn and a sprinkling of goat cheese. It was dressed with a pleasing beer vinaigrette and paired nicely with a beautiful Chardonnay Library Release Frostwatch 2014 from Bennett Valley. I learned the wine is a barrel fermented blend evoking layers of flavors that include ripe red apple followed by citrus notes of lemon, lime and orange peel. This wine offered a rich silky mouthfeel with just a nuance of well-integrated French oak.

This wine also went well with ethereal plump ravioli pillows filled with parmesan cheese, sweet currants and sautéed herbs.

Large scoop of burrata, topped with Oregon porcini duxelles arrived before my entree. Duxelles is finely chopped mushrooms with shallots, herbs such as thyme or parsley, and black pepper. It is all sautéed in butter and reduced to a paste. I grabbed another piece of this heavenly bread and spread this on top. Delicious!

A plates of beautifully cooked French classic skirt steak was set in front of me. The protein was cooked on the wood-fired hearth before it was topped with a bordelaise sauce, watercress, sliced grapes, and shallots.

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The last highlight of the evening was pastry chef Sally’s dessert. After graduating with honors from both the Culinary and Baking, and Pastry Programs at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, she gained recognition for her exquisite duck egg creme brûlée. I thought it would be savory, yet instead the creamy custard base sweetened with Muscovado, a robust flavor sugar from Mauritius. It’s high molasses content gives a strong lingering flavor. This beautiful ethereal brunt cream had a curled almond crisp tuile cookie dusted with powdered sugar on top.

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Enjoying the dinner so much, I brought my husband to Tesse for brunch on a rainy Sunday last month. Sitting in the main dining room, we started off with three of chef Sally’s pastries to share around the table. We chose a chocolate croissant, along with a fresh fruit danish and a small banana loaf. All were exquisite.

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Our friendly server recommended we start with fresh red beet and carrot juice, and a kale, celery and green apple juice. She also told us that we have never tasted a grapefruit like the one they serve at brunch.

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It’s half of a ruby red grapefruit with muscovado sugar sprinkled on top. When torched, it bubbles and browns to a caramelized brûlée. The blushing red sections burst juicy sweetness with each spoonful.

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During brunch the formidable culinary duo reinvent classic brunch fare into something special. We ordered chef Raphael’s special smoked salmon Benedict topped with an exquisite herb hollandaise. Instead of English muffins, the eggs are on top of two slices of housemade brioche bread. Lovely pickled tomatoes and smoked salmon finish this brunch favorite.

img_0089When the “Frenchy Pizza” was delivered, Chef Raphael arrived at our table to prepare the dish in front of us. On a large wooden round plate were two grilled crepes topped with olive oil. There were dishes of ricotta cheese, garlicky pesto, marinated tomato confit and crispy prosciutto. This is the only restaurant in Los Angeles where you will experience this unique and savory crepe style crust pizza. Chef finished it off by shaving French cheese on top. 

While enjoying the new brunch offerings, we glanced at the daytime cocktail menu, including the Drip Club for coffee lovers with vodka, demerara (a dark rum fermented cane sugar from Guyana), and coffee. The Tesse Bellini is a pour of Champagne and peaches, while the refreshing Gin Fizz Tropicale is a mix of Sunday gin, orgeat, pineapple, and lime.

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Looking around the dining room, I noticed almost every table had a stacked up high Tesse burger. It’s made with braised short rib, instead of ground beef, and is topped with a thick and crispy onion ring.  Baby bib lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and housemade ketchup finish the burger served with a handful of duck fat fries.

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Before leaving, our sweet and efficient server Maureen encouraged us to walk across the breezeway to Fred Segal to see the newly opened Tesse Cafe and Bakery. It is open for breakfast and lunch serving French delicacies on Sunset.

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Tesse is open for dinner daily from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday brunch begins at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tesse Cafe & Bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with lunch during the weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 8500 W. Sunset Blvd. (310)360-3866.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press on February 28. 

Take Your Sweetheart Here on Valentine’s Day

Where are you taking that special guy or gal this coming Thursday to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Some are celebrating before the big day and others will continue to celebrate afterwards and into the weekend.

Here is a list of Weinlein approved destinations featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News:

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Montage Beverly Hills

Settle into a private poolside cabana at the Montage Beverly Hills with chocolate-covered strawberries, a mimosa flight and plush terry cloth robes. This special package for $450 is available from Saturday, Feb. 9, through Thursday, Feb. 14. Cabanas can accommodate invited to treat their sweethearts and themselves to bottomless mimosas at The Rooftop Grill on Feb. 14 for $42 per person. The Bar at the Montage Beverly Hills also welcomes guests on Feb. 14 for special cocktails like the Opposites Attract, The Heart and The Spirit. Enjoy live music starting at 7:30 p.m. For dinner, The Restaurant will offer a romantic four-course meal. Chef Monica Olaes’ menu is laden with rich and decadent offerings, including leek and potato cream soup with black truffles, seared scallops and beef tartare. Entrées include vegetable lasagna, Chilean sea bass and filet mignon. Sommelier-selected wine pairings are available exclusively on Feb. 14 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The dinner is $105 per person with an additional $55 per person for optional wine pairings. Stay overnight for a perfect getaway for two that includes luxurious accommodations, chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of Champagne upon arrival. Enjoy complimentary access to the Spa Montage Beverly Hills, breakfast in bed or at The Rooftop Grill, and Canon Drive, (855)691-1162.

Skyspace LA

Celebrate romance with Skyspace Los Angeles’ “Toast From The Top” package. The $50 admission offers wonderful views; two chocolate-covered strawberries; two Skyslide rides, one per person; and two splits of Pommery brut Champagne and rosé, or a bottle of G.H. Mumm Champagne for an additional $25. The special is available now through Feb. 17. For tickets, visit bit.ly/2Sto8OY. 633 W. Fifth St., #840, (213)894-9000.

Dinner and a movie at The Grove

In honor of awards season, The Grove offers the ultimate movie-going experience for two. Enjoy an award-nominated film and a three-course dinner at select dining destinations at The Grove. Participating restaurants include 189 by Dominique Ansel, Bar Verde at Nordstrom, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, Ladurée, La Piazza, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Umami Burger, and The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge. For $70 per couple, this special package includes dinner for two, complimentary valet parking and two reserved movie tickets for one of the nominated movies playing at the Pacific Theatres. Caruso Rewards members will receive free popcorn. The special is available Monday through Friday until March 1, but not on Valentine’s Day. 189 The Grove Drive, (323)900-8080.

Preux & Proper

Executive chef Sammy Monsour prepares a Southern spread on Feb. 14 for couples and friends to share. Start with a charcuterie paired with pâté de campagne made with rabbit and pork, green tomato chow-chow, seasonal accoutrements and fresh baguette. The seafood gumbo pot is made with Louisiana crawfish, tiger prawns, Willapa Bay oysters, Prince Edward Island mussels, rice and tobacco leeks. Another dish perfect for sharing is the traditional rabbit jambalaya prepared with Oz Family Farms rabbit, heirloom squash risotto, sage, pecorino sardo, golden raisins and pumpkin seeds. Finish with dulce de leche bananas Foster beignets with powdered sugar, or the Mama’s Key Lime Pie, featuring a secret recipe served with whipped cream. Beverage director Kassady Wiggins is making two special Valentine’s Day cocktails, the Love Potion #9 with Sipsmith London dry gin and the 50 Shades of Lavender with sparkling rosé. The restaurant is open from 4 to 10 p.m. 840 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213)896-0090.

The Belvedere

The Belvedere offers a four-course, prix-fixe menu featuring fresh lobster caviar, a juicy and tender filet mignon, and puffy chocolate soufflé or tiramisu for dessert. Resident pianist Antonio Castillo de la Gala will play during this special Valentine’s Day dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. The meal is $125 per guest. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310)975-2736.

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Jean-Georges Beverly Hills

Walk through the elegant Waldorf Astoria to the Jean-Georges restaurant for a special tasting menu after 5 p.m. on Feb. 14. Start with an amuse-bouche, and sea urchin and caviar. Other offerings include fresh tagliatelle with black truffles, and fresh cod with a nut and seed crust. The wagyu beef tenderloin is served with silky glazed and roasted carrots. Finish with a chewy chocolate meringue topped with blood oranges and roses. The meal is $155 per person. 9850 Wilshire Blvd., (310)860-6566.

Otoño

The recently opened Spanish-influenced restaurant located in the heart of Highland Park is offering a Spanish-Japanese Valentine’s Day prix-fixe dinner menu for $80 per person. Optional sake and wine pairings are $20 per person. Dinner reservations are available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Menu items include Japanese vegetable tempura, Baja sea bass sashimi, chicken heart yakitori and unagi paella for two. 5715 N. Figueroa St., (323)474-6624.IMG_0010Circa 55

The signature restaurant at The Beverly Hilton is serving a four-course dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. with live guitar music starting at 6 p.m. The evening includes an amuse-bouche, appetizer, entrée and sweet treat by renowned pastry chef Thomas Henzi. This special includes one bottle of Le Grande Courtâge sparkling wine or one virgin cocktail per person. Couples get to take home a mini box of chocolate truffles to enjoy later in the evening. The special meal is $130 per couple or $65 per person. 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310)887-6055.

Culina

Enjoy chef de cuisine Luca Moriconi’s five-course, prix-fixe menu at $125 per person. Start with a special sangria cocktail, featuring red wine, Asian pear, strawberry, orange and honey, garnished with fresh fruit. The menu begins with an oyster amuse-bouche, followed by antipasto choices such as tomato soup with ricotta agnolotti and taggiasca olive dust. Next, enjoy mozzarella with candy cane beets, marinated strawberries, aged balsamic and mint, or carabineros prawn crudo with red pepper corn, sea beans, grapes and citronette. For the first course, choose between black mussels with artichoke lasagna or asparagus risotto with edible gold. The second course offers a choice between baked Dover sole filets or roasted Cornish hen served with truffled white polenta, green peas and seasonal black truffles. Finish with a passion fruit semifreddo for two, served with chocolate torsion and a candied rose. An à la carte menu is also offered. Reservations are from 6 to 11 p.m. 300 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, (310)860-4000.IMG_0011

Institute of Culinary Education

On Feb. 14, make and enjoy classic shrimp cocktails, Caesar salad, grilled New York strips, creamed spinach, truffled mashed potatoes and mini New York cheesecakes with strawberry compote at the Institute of Culinary Education’s Pasadena campus. On Feb. 15, couples can learn how to make, shape and stuff pasta dough. You and your partner will create a complete fresh Italian dinner of pappardelle with Bolognese sauce, butternut squash ravioli with sage butter, tomato basil bruschetta, and a shaved fennel and radicchio salad. Each class begins at 6 p.m. and costs $240 a couple. 521 E. Green St., (888)718-2433.

Crustacean BH

Among cascades of flowers and elegant décor, chef Helene An makes romantic creations with seafood, apples, saffron, chili, banana, pomegranate, vanilla and watermelon. Start with the chilled watermelon consume, chilled Fanny Bay oysters with yuzu and truffle ponzu, and warm Alaskan king crab leg with sweet corn and tamarind sweet chili. The Eros Salad is made with pomegranate seeds, strawberries, kale, Brussels sprouts, almonds, red onion and cauliflower croutons. The surf ‘n’ turf dish features A5 wagyu and Maine lobster. For a sweet ending, try The Forbidden Apple made with pound cake, cobbler crumble, Baileys caramel liqueur and maca. An also makes her banana à la mode with turbinado brûlée, Baileys, caramel and Tahitian bean ice cream. 468 N. Bedford Drive, (310)205-8990.

Không Tên

On Valentine’s Day, Không Tên is offering 50 percent off all drinks all night for all singles sitting at the bar. There’ll also be a special flaming version of The Golden Pineapple cocktail for two. Throughout February, couples on any of the dating apps, including Tinder, Grindr and Bumble, can get 50 percent off drinks by showing the server or bartender both phones to prove a match. 11520 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (424)832-7000.

E.P. & L.P.

Aussie-Fijian executive chef Louis Tikaram’s five-course menu begins with a glass of Champagne and hiramasa kingfish tartare. Couples will then share Australian king prawn and Maine lobster garlic butter noodles, hot and sour salad with wood-grilled short rib, and truffle fried rice. Finish with the Coco-Nuts About You pudding. This special dinner is $100 per person. 603 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310)855-9955.

Tesse

Enjoy a French-inspired Saint Valentine prix-fixe menu for $95 per person with an optional wine pairing for $55 each. Start with caviar toast, purple potatoes and crème fraîche, and entrées of chicken oysters with cappuccino, hazelnut and porcini, or a New York strip with bone marrow, barley and root stew. For dessert, enjoy a decadent chocolate dessert for two. An à la carte menu is also offered. 14. 8500 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310)360-3866.