Good places in Leeds seem to closing faster than good ones are opening. First, Anthony’s and now dear old La Grillade. Squidbeak is long enough in the tooth to have known the definitively French cellar in the basement of the old Wellesley Hotel since it opened some 30 years ago.
And proprietor Guy Martin-Laval signed off with a magnificently Gallic pout blaming Leeds Council’s healthy and safety apparatchiks for his closure over a spat about the correct preparation of steak tartare.
If you wanted red meat – Chateaubriand or Cotelettes d’Agneau – and wanted it French then Guy was always your man. We followed him round Leeds centre from the Wellesley vaults to an expansive space on East Parade to the Waterhole wine bar on Great George Street (anyone else with fond memories of his fondue there?) and back down below ground again to his true home in Wellington Street
There was David Jason at one table, David Frost at another and, a great regular, Alan Bennett round the corner. It was an authentic haunt of visiting showbiz and media names, owing nothing to passing fashions. I never did quite find out why Guy gave up his work as a champagne merchant to set up in Leeds all those years ago but boy was 1980 Leeds grateful for La Grillade. Au revoir, Guy, merci beaucoup et bonne chance. Come back soon.