When legendary restaurateur Bill Chait partnered with the Creative Arts Agency to open an eatery in the space next to Fred Segal on the Sunset Strip it started a discussion around a compelling question: How do you merge food and fashion?
“There’s been some interesting restaurant-retail partnerships in the last few years,” says Chait, citing chef Marc Vetri’s 2015 sale of his company to Urban Outfitters. “The retail world is under a lot of pressure so creating unique experience, however you do it, is really what it’s all about,” says Chait. “I think this is something you’re probably going to see more of in the future.”
What Chait came up with is Tesse (short for délicatesse), a bustling, 125-seat restaurant with an adjacent wine store, open wood-fired kitchen, and Michelin-starred chef Raphael Francois (Le Cirque, Four Seasons George V, Hôtel de Crillon, Paris) at the helm. In a neighborhood more known for tourist-driven nightlife and entertainment, Francois’s extensive menu of French delicacies is a culinary destination-maker.
“I think the number one reason people go to restaurants is to socialize with their friends, to be with people that they want to be with,” says Chait. “The medium of that socialization is food and beverage and space.”
In line with Chait’s intention for the restaurant to be a social hub, a long list of pates, foie gras, house made sausages, and cured meats makes for optimal sharing, while the wine program offers only half pours to encourage continued wine tasting. Blue crab simplisse, a creamy bowl of whipped potatoes and crab meat speckled with fresh tarragon, is drizzled with a cognac sauce table side. Juicy gobs of marrow slide down the bone and onto a plate of bucatini twirled with duck prosciutto, brown butter, and shallots. The vegetable “beignets” arrive plated before the server drowns them in a red pepper-and-tomato gazpacho. In fact, many of the menu items at Tesse involve some such table-side presentation, adding to the liveliness of the room.
“The soul of the restaurant’s whole perspective is driven by the mind of the chef,” says Chait, who is famous for opening highly anticipated and beloved restaurants like Bestia, Republique, Otium, and Picca. He believes the secret to a successful restaurant is having a unique chef with a genuine and strong point of view combined with a space and experience that magnifies that chef’s abilities.
“It becomes something that’s greater than the sum of its parts,” he says.
Tesse, 8500 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
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