The Washington Post

Top sommelier Mark Slater moves to Bastille in Alexandria

Christophe and Michelle Poteaux of Bastille have hired sommelier Mark Slater to oversee their wine program. (Bastille Restaurant)

 “I’ve known Mark for a long time,” says Christophe Poteaux, who co-owns the 60-seat Bastille with his wife and co-chef, Michelle. “Why would I not want to hire Mark?”

Slater’s experience with fine dining includes the late Michel Richard Citronelle, where he served as wine director and chief sommelier. Slater also created the wine program at Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington, which offers global variety at good value, a philosophy his new employer wants him to continue at Bastille.  

The wine maven spent the last three months helping to open Notting Hill (the former Le Gaulois) in Alexandria, which served its first dinner by chef Frank Morales Dec. 30. Ultimately, that situation “didn’t work out,” says Slater, who gave his notice over the weekend.

 Of Bastille, he says, “I like the size (and) the style of the food. It’s the opposite of pretentious.” Poteaux says he welcomes Slater as a mentor for the younger members of his staff. “I’m not a kid anymore,” jokes the sommelier, 60. “This is a fun thing to do.”

Slater, who begins his job Tuesday, is not the only new hire at Bastille. Helping to oversee the dining room is new assistant manager Nancy Sears, fresh from the nearby Restaurant Eve, where she served as a captain. The owners of Bastille have also added a full-time bar tender to their ranks. The new crew will be working in digs refreshed around Labor Day, when Bastille got a fresh coat of paint, enhanced lighting and a refurbished bar.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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