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No 3 York Place to ditch fine dining

12 June 2006 by

Leeds restaurant No 3 York Place is to ditch fine dining and relaunch as a brasserie on 1 September.

The co-owners - maitre d' Denis Lefrancq, 30, and chef Martel Smith, 27 - said the restaurant would reopen as No 3, with a less formal atmosphere aimed at drawing customers who previously saw it as too expensive.

Formal aspects of service at No 3 York Place, such as starched white cloths, complimentary tasters between courses and hand-made chocolates after meals will go.

"Our aim is to change the opinion that we are terribly expensive and reduce the overall cost by taking away all these formalities," Lefrancq said.

Lefrancq cites as an inspiration chef Alain Senderens, one of the founding fathers of nouvelle cuisine.

"Last year in Paris, he decided to give back his Michelin stars and open a brasserie instead," Lefrancq said. "The food he serves is still among the best in Paris but the cooking is now more accessible to everybody. This is the way we are going."

The new menu will change four times a year and will comprise 10 starters at less than £10, 10 main courses at £11 to £16 and puddings at £5.

Michelin Guides editor Derek Bulmer said: "I've been saying for some years now that there is a move towards informality and more flexibility with menus. As people eat out more they don't always want the pomp that goes with formal dining."

Blumer said he didn't expect many existing fine-dining restaurants to follow Number 3 York Place's lead, but thought that new openings would increasingly offer more casual dining experiences.

No 3 York Place was previously Guellers - run by chef Simon Gueller. Lefrancq and Smith took over in 2003.

By Antony Adshead

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