The Hollywood Reporter is starting to expand its food coverage, leaning into official restaurant reviews written by senior THR writer Gary Baum. The new monthly column kicks off with an up-and-down look at West Hollywood newcomer Tesse.
In his new column called Table Read, Baum offers a big-picture look at the excess and success of Tesse on Sunset Boulevard. The restaurant comes with some big-money names behind the scenes and an award-winning chef in Raphael Francois, and has been winning over diners in droves since first opening in June. Baum is often taken with the French food and wine, but admits that the restaurant’s signature bone luge — where diners literally drink alcohol that is washed down the inside of a bone and straight into their mouth, as the room is made to look on — is a bit of showmanship the place really doesn’t need. In fact, he calls it “ridiculous” and “peacocking,” almost back-to-back.
What’s more, Baum says that Francois could do to spend a touch more time on the other side of the pass, instead of shaking hands in the dining room. He notes:
Francois appears to be spending quite a bit of time out front, working the floor. Perhaps this is a factor in some intelligently conceived dishes that fall victim to ill finesse, like a too-salty assemblage of asparagus with hollandaise, prosciutto and chanterelles, a stringy lamb confit, or an overly dressed baby gem salad.
Otherwise, the Hollywood Reporter writer comes away smitten with the “ambitious dining option” and its “superior bucatini with duck prosciutto,” among other dishes. Baum’s ultimate take?
Beyond the brashness, there’s a sense of serious purpose here — and a promise of improved performance.
Beyond this one capsule review, though, there is a more interesting larger point. The Hollywood Reporter is entering into Los Angeles dining criticism at precisely the same time as the New York Times’ incoming Tejal Rao. The LA Times is planning on staffing up with heavy at the same position following the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold, and word around town continues to be that the Michelin guide is readying for a return as well. Add in Simon Majumdar at TimeOut, Brad A. Johnson in Orange County, and Garrett Snyder’s own capsule takes at Los Angeles Magazine, and suddenly the food criticism scene feels alive once again in LA.