There are many reasons why Tesse, the brand-new concept by prolific restaurateur Bill Chait, will succeed. There’s Chait’s own track record (Bestia, République, Redbird), of course. But also consider the endless racks of house-made charcuterie and the inspired small plates from chef Raphael Francois that showcase fresh California ingredients.
On the drink side, there are deliciously balanced cocktails by Julian Cox and Nick Meyer. Let's also not forget the whimsical desserts of Sally Camacho Mueller. And finally, with its location on the Sunset Strip—a well-moneyed area that has been thirsting for an updated dining concept—Tesse is primed to surprise.
As for the decor, the area gains a top-notch dining experience beautifully framed by a minimalist, modern 70s interior.
Tying all of this together, however, is wine director and partner Jordan Ogron’s revolutionary and approachable wine program. While the family style dining format continues to thrive in Los Angeles, Tesse’s wine-by-the-glass selection, 30 in all, adapts to the fast changes throughout the meal in pairing with shared plates.
Since each pour is three ounces as opposed to the standard six, any given glass is priced in the single digits, making it easier (and more affordable) to enjoy many different wines throughout the meal, including more impressive wines with price points that would prevent many from ordering a whole glass. “That way you can start off with some bubbles but also get a nice Barolo with some age on it to go with your steak,” Ogron says.
If that isn't enough, the wine gets better come time to order dessert. Back from Chait and Ogron’s days at Rivera is the “name your price” dessert wine program, culling from their inventory of more than 200 bottles. It’s exactly as it sounds: Name your price ($10 to $30 is the most common range, but it can go as high as $500), and Ogron will present “the most memorable flight of dessert wines you’ve ever tasted” for the entire table to share.
The results will undoubtedly change your mind about the category, as Ogron says, “Most of the dessert wines aren’t even sweet.” Ogron has vintage Madeiras, sherries, Paxxito, Vin Santos, Tokajis and wine-driven vermouths he is happy to present to and educate his diners about, with plenty of rare and eccentric ones to go around. Diners can even catch an early taste of Madeira by ordering the fabulous Bucatini with bone marrow, which comes with a restaurant-sanctioned cheer and a shot of fortified wine down the barrel of the bone into each guest’s mouth, known the world over as the unctuous “bone luge.”
You’ll want to keep an eye on the many wines exclusive to Tesse, available both by the glass and bottle, the latter of which starts in the attainable $40 range. Everything you drink, however, can be purchased at the elegant, state-of-the-art Boutellier wine shop adjacent to the restaurant. The best part of enjoying wine with your meal is that its approachability is facilitated by the emphasis on education.
At Tesse, you can try many different wines without breaking the bank, and yet have access to a huge inventory that keeps you going back for more, whether casually propped at the bar or formally sitting down with a large party.
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