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Now Open: Classic French Cuisine with a Modern Twist at Sottise in Downtown Phoenix

A renowned restaurant duo has unveiled a new French-themed bistro in one of the Roosevelt District's most recognizable homes, the historic Knipe House. Sottise, led by chef TJ Culp and restaurateur Esther Noh, opened recently inside the early 20th Century home, presenting an homage to French classics inspired by the cafĂ© and brasserie culture from the streets of Paris.

The inside of the historic 112-year-old Knipe House gives off a rustic-chic vibe that transports you out of the desert and into a European oasis. An antique fireplace, long mirrors, wood furniture, classic records around the room, and light brick wall accents bring a cozy-but-fancy feeling to the overall space.

Culp is best known for his Restaurant Progress in the Melrose District, and he and Noh own the wine shop next door to it, Montecito Bottle Shop.

With help from wine director Oscar Avilla-Prado, who has an MBA in wine, Culp's French cooking background, and Ester Noh's management experience, Sottise leans away from the classic Modern American cuisine found at Restaurant Progress. The Sottise menu offers traditional French fare, like charcuterie boards, fresh baguettes, French onion soup, and cherry tomato crostini (whipped goat cheese spread on a thick slice of toast topped with sweet-roasted cherry tomatoes).

There are also fancier French options with a modern twist, such as oysters with caviar, escargot from Burgundy ("big fatties," Culp says), and steak tartare. Most products are imported from France, procured from local venues, or are pickled and cured in-house.

click to enlarge Esther Noh and TJ Culp's new restaurant, Sottise, is located inside a historic home just north of Roosevelt Row. - NATALIA ANKIEWICZ
Esther Noh and TJ Culp's new restaurant, Sottise, is located inside a historic home just north of Roosevelt Row.
Natalia Ankiewicz
Culp says the cocktails are just as important as the food when dining at Sottise. Beverage director Lucas Swallows, originally from New Mexico, is in charge of the cocktail program at Sottise and is charged with making French spirits fun in a cool, modern way. Swallows is the former director of bar operations at Momofuku. One innovative creation is the New Fashion, an Old-Fashioned with a sweet coconut aromatic taste, or the Kokopelli, which has aromatics of Christmas, says Noh.

"We have $6 cocktails, and we have $600 bottles of wine," Culp said. "So, to be honest, we are kind of a restaurant for everyone."

Sottise hopes to expand in a couple of months by adding bar seats and patio seating throughout the establishment. Culp says they are taking it day by day.

"Ultimately, I want to stay in this house and see this neighborhood grow," he says.

Sottise opened in mid-December and now accepts reservations through its website for dinners from 5 to 11 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays. Reservations can be made on the restaurant's website or via Instagram.

Sottise
1025 North Second Street
Tuesday through Sunday, 5-11 p.m.