food

5 Minutes With Mark Langlois Of Sotano

We chatted to restaurateur Mark Langlois about the inspiration behind Sotano and what he most enjoys about running his restaurant. 

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Sotano | House and Leisure

Inspired by the ethos of Mediterranean living and situated on Cape Town's famously bustling Bree Street, Sotano on Bree opens up into a beautiful pintxos bar with an abundance of natural light, a burst of turquoise and a crackling fireplace in the background. A staircase leads upstairs to the open-plan main restaurant, a cosy lounge and an outside deck, with an open sushi bar where the chefs go about creating eclectic dishes.  

The decor and interiors by Lauren Marshall Interiors are a mixture of industrial chic with light wood and bright colour blocking. 'Beautiful contemporary art and plant life in the form of hanging plants dotted about the room in terracotta pots combine to create a space that is both elegant and sophisticated yet playful and relaxed,' says Marshall.

Sotano on Bree has a selection of menus available throughout the day. We chatted to owner Mark Langlois about the inspiration behind Sotano, what he enjoys most about running restaurants, and what his ideal last meal would be. 

5 Minutes With Mark Langlois Of Sotano

Did you always want to be a restauranteur or involved in hospitality? 

I've known I was going to get into this industry ever since my first visit to the Royal Grill at The Royal Hotel for my 10th birthday. Seven years later, I was job shadowing at that very hotel! I think being introduced into this industry at such a reputable establishment and under strong leadership made me confident to pursue this as a career. After 12 years in the hotel industry, I decided it was time to run my own restaurant.

Sotano | House and Leisure

Tell us more about the concept behind Sotano and what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Sotano takes its inspiration from the Mediterranean lifestyle. Whether you're just in the mood for a cocktail or a glass of wine with tapas or are interested in sampling our seasonally focussed selection of table platters, salads and main courses, we want to create an atmosphere that is casual and accessible at any time of the day, and even for a special occasion. I think it's important to keep your offering interesting, so we also host special events and weekly live music, and keep up with current trends in this cuisine space, most notably, our recently launched pintxos bar.

Sotano | House and Leisure
Pintxos at the ready at Sotano.

 

What's the oddest (or most memorable) dish you've ever tasted?

Impossible to answer the most memorable. I have so many fond memories of food and for so many different reasons. I still find eating snails to be very odd, no matter how much garlic and butter you add...

ALSO READ: Pintxos Bar At Sotano Brings Spanish Delicacies To Cape Town

What tastes remind you of your childhood?

To this day, it is bacon and eggs. It was a Sunday tradition growing up in our house, and rarely an exception was made. It was always great family time with my parents and brothers, and a pastime that I now enjoy with my own two children. 

Do you have a secret talent?

Yes, and I’m keeping it a secret! 

What do you enjoy most about running a restaurant? 

Multitasking – you have to be a Jack of all trades. Each day presents its own set of challenges. Never mind the human aspect of dealing with staff and customers, you’ll find yourself resolving issues ranging from book keeping and finance, to orders with suppliers, to handyman fixes, to tasting many a bottle of wine – the list goes on. So it certainly is not mundane work for sure! 

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If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?

It’s tough not to say the hours, but that really is the truth. Having an understanding and supportive family is essential in this business, but it doesn’t make it any easier. 

What's your current favourite drink?

Whisky, for its complexity and versatility. I enjoy it with a splash of water, in a classic cocktail or – my favourite – a neat single malt.

Which part of the world should every serious food lover visit?

San Sebastián in Spain. The quality of food being offered from one of the highest concentration of bars in the world is unparalleled. From everyday tapas to Michelin-star venues and of course the unique offering of pintxos, they take their food very seriously, and we are proud to have been the first to bring the pintxos concept to Sotano and the local Cape Town food scene.

What is your current favourite restaurant, other than your own?

Chefs Warehouse (any one of them!).

What would your last meal – and last drink – be? 

On my deathbed, Wagyu steak with a bottle of Romanee-Conti Grand Cru. On death row, bottomless fries – make ‘em wait!

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