West Hollywood: Dinner and Drinks at Tesse
Last month I checked out Tesse for my annual holiday dinner with some close friends. There were seven of us so we ordered a number of dishes and drinks. We scored the table in front of the open kitchen. Some might not like that spot but I love watching a well run kitchen. Others may prefer the more quiet space inside the adjoining wine shop.
Once the group tasted my drink, the Filipineau, we ordered a couple more! It’s a tiki-style drink with fortified wine and tequila. It’s the genius work of Nick Meyer who has done drinks menus around town.
Filipineau – Pineau de Charentes, tequila blanco, pineapple three ways, umeboshi, lime
At first we only got one order of caviar toast which comes with two per order. This made it hard to share so we got a couple more orders. I like how the toast is already built for you with purple potato and Pointy Nose white sturgeon caviar. They do give you a couple generous heaps of caviar but at $25 per order, it’s a splurge.
We ordered the foie gras “au naturel” which was a huge hunk of foie! I loved that! I am not a bit fan of foie already covered in fruit so I’m glad this was served on the side with perfectly hot brioche. We did end up ordering more brioche to go with our generous piece of foie.
There are a number of charcuterie items but we opted for the chef’s selection. You have a choice of three, five or “le grande dame” which I hope is all the meats and cheeses. Although there were seven of us, we decided to be conservative as we knew we had a lot of other food to try. We went with the chef’s choice of three which came with a cheese, pate and sausage. It was the perfect amount.
My friends enjoy good food and drink but they are not in the restaurant industry so we left the choice of wine selection to the helpful sommeliers. Don’t be afraid to discuss what you’re looking for budget wise and what you’re eating with the somm. They’ll come up with a perfect bottle or two to go with your meal.
Banana is so hot in drinks right now! I got the Mad Real which featured banana cognac (I called it infused but possibly it’s a house mixture of liqueur and cognac which would make more sense). This was a pleasant drink.
Mad Real– banana infused cognac, black strap rum, demarara
I love eating with friends who want to try everything. When I suggested sardines, everyone enthusiastically said yes!
The octopus with squid ink rice was good. I did have the arroz negro the night before at Estrella that I liked a little bit better but it’s still a solid rendition at Tesse.
The short rib turned out to be on toast with lovely whole roasted garlic. This one was appreciated by the beef lovers. The pear balsamic provided a nice balance.
Do you like crab? Do you like mashed potatoes? Then you’ll like the blue crab simplissime. This reminded me a bit of Eggslut’s The Slut but this is like the “so extra” version with blue crab.
We really liked the crispy pig ears but I would have liked this dish in a bowl. The beans sloshed around and left streaks on our table. Of course, I suppose you could say we didn’t have to be so messy but when you’re passing around a dish around a large table, sometimes accidents happen.
I actually started the evening with the Deux Carre drink but it would make a better “sitting around with dessert” drink. It’s a take on the classic Vieux Carre. Instead of Benedictine, there’s Genepi. I also like the addition of calvados which enhances the cognac. The unexpected surprise is the madeira wine.
Deux Carre – bonded rye whiskey, cognac, calvados, Genepi, 5-year-old madeira, vermouth
We also had the scallops which were also perfectly cooked. The butternut squash was a nice nod to the season.
I asked for the skirt steak to be medium rare and it came out as requested. It was so juicy and delicious.
In addition to the above, we also had two pastas but they landed on the other side of the table and I didn’t have a chance to photograph them. We got the buccatini with bone marrow. The marrow is scraped into the pasta tableside so it creates an extra rich dish. I liked the duck proscuitto in the dish.
The table’s favorite pasta though was the tagliatelle with duck gizzards. After we got this dish, it occurred to me that Tesse is an offal lover’s dream restaurant. This is an adventurous eater’s dream.
Desserts are under the tender ministrations of Chef Sally Mueller. I first met Chef Sally when she was with Wolfgang Puck.
I wanted to try the mont blanc, tart tatin or the almond brown butter cake. My friends decided on the almond brown butter cake. It’s a cute presentation. We also got the chocramel (not shown) with milk chocolate, honey caramel and nuts. That was delicious!
We also really liked chocolate souffle. I’m into desserts with fruit or chocolate but this evening was all about the chocolate!
We’re coming back for brunch and I can’t wait to try more cocktails.
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