Tesse Opens on SunsetAuthor:Abigail Stone
Designer Alexis Readinger of Preen, Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, is no stranger to restaurant design with such popular spaces as Howlin’ Rays, Odys & Penelope, Akasha and Hatfield’s under her belt. So it’s not too surprising that, when she reached out to Bill Chait, the mastermind behind Bestia, Republique, The Rose and Petty Cash Taqueria, he took one look at her portfolio and brought her onboard to work with him on Tesse, his latest venture, located on the Sunset Strip.
The concept of Tesse stands at a tricky intersection. Helmed by Chef Raphael Francois and pastry wiz Sally Camacho Mueller, there’s a French bistro sheen to its menu with a soupcon of Filipino flair to the desserts and pastries. Located next to the new itineration of the legendary Fred Segal boutique next door, the two destinations are meant to walk hand in hand (and serve as the template for future Fred Segal pop-ups in other cities). Yet, given the surprising dearth of fine dining options along this stretch of Sunset, it also needed to work as a stand-alone spot. A glimpse of the exterior confirms that Readinger accomplished this.
While nodding to Fred Segal’s iconic red, white and blue awning and its white push-pull block facade, Tesse takes a more organic approach, referencing its neighbor via textured 6-inch pink concrete blocks. Where Fred Segal has politely trimmed ivy, Tesse takes a wilder turn, with deeply impregnated greenery walls. That earthy approach, what Readinger refers to as ‘Terroir,” appropriating the French word for provenance, continues inside. Here, a sweeping teak ceiling slopes downwards, enveloping patrons in a warm and earthy color palette that channels Laurel Canyon of the late 70s. Ceiling mirrors nod to that era’s “free spirited” tone, while the astrological symbols that locate the bathrooms, acknowledge its hippie roots.
The large open kitchen, separated from the main dining room by a 9,000 pound concrete countertop, puts food preparation, complete with wood-burning grills and smokers, on display. Over on the bar side, rainbow limestone, dramatically split in half through its entire length, glows from within, footlighting beautiful cases of Francois’s house-made charcuterie; on the weekend, it’s the site for the lascivious displays of Mueller’s pastries.
Sensuous furniture, made in Bosnia, channels midcentury modern design. In the bar area, angled leather loveseats cluster around low two-top tables, encouraging mixing and mingling while a long, six-seat angled counter welcomes drop-in guests to its hand-turned backless walnut and leather stools.
Next door, Boutellier, separated by a twelve-foot steel and bronze rolling door, is the restaurant’s wine shop and private wine tasting room. Designed in homage to European wine caves, its pebbled walls are lit by a large central 8-foot round oculous in the ceiling. Light oak wood shelving and steel cubbies host wood wine box drawers with burned wood labels offering up general manager Jordan Ogron’s collection of impeccably curated bottles from around the world.
Tesse, 8500 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, 310-360-3866