FOOD fads come and go and hardly a day goes by without Glasgow’s dining scene welcoming another new kid on the block.

But legendary awardwinning restaurant La Bonne Auberge has stood the test of time.

On Sunday (Bastille Day, July 14), the French-Scottish brasserie celebrates its 44th birthday.

The inspiration for La Bonne Auberge came from a variety of sources – owner Maurice Taylor’s love of French cuisine; a chance trip to a trendy St Tropez restaurant; and the skilled ‘lemonadiers’ on the Champs-Élysées.

“I had become friendly with Sir Hugh Fraser, who invited me to St Tropez in the south of France, to show me this new, trendy restaurant,” recalls Maurice. “It was huge, spread over different levels and through a series of arched windows you could look down into the kitchen and watch all the chefs bustling about. It was called La Bonne Auberge and it was the first time I’d thought about opening my own restaurant.”

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Maurice began his hospitality career as a junior night porter at the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire, trained in some of Scotland’s finest hotels, and then got a job in Paris, at the prestigious La Tour d’Argent, a haunt of celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis Junior and Brigitte Bardot.

In the early 70s, he set up his own company, Chardon Hotels and when he bought the Beacons Hotel in Park Terrace, he turned its basement into a Mediterranean brasserie and La Bonne Auberge was born.

“I wanted it to be fine dining, but casual,” explains Maurice. “On the Champs-Élysées, the waiters in the pavement cafes serve customers at the table, trays glued to their hands, and that was the idea I had for my restaurant. I wanted the waiters working from their aprons, rather than dressed head to toe in formal tuxedos or tails. That’s still the case today.”

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When it opened, La Bonne Auberge quickly became the go-to restaurant for the Glasgow glitterati and visiting celebrities – Telly Savalas, of Kojak fame, often popped in and local Archbishops, leading arts and culture figures and more were regular visitors.

It was stylish and modern, with striking decor and classic white Rosenthal crockery, and very different from anything else in Glasgow at the time.

Maurice commissioned sculptor George Wyllie to produce various items for the restaurant.

“He didn’t listen to any of my suggestions and just went ahead with his own ideas – which, of course, were much better,” laughs Maurice. “I asked for a large metal frog, but he created a life-size metal cartoon figure of Charles de Gaulle, replete with military hat, bandolier and holster, pushing a bicycle. Instead of a gun sticking out of the holster, George added a knife and fork…”

Wyllie’s de Gaulle sculpture took pride of place near the entrance to La Bonne Auberge, situated in an alcove lined with purple felt, under a perpetual spotlight. Two other Wyllie creations – a gramophone with a large fibreglass megaphone and a waiter hanging from the Eiffel Tower - moved with the restaurant in 1995 to its new home on the corner of West Nile Street and Renfrew Street.

The original restaurant employed only French staff front of house and only served French and Alsace wines and French vermouths and beer, with the exception of Stella Artois, which Maurice introduced to Glasgow, but those strict rules have been relaxed.

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“Of all the places I have worked and owned, La Bonne Auberge is still my favourite,” acknowledges Maurice with a smile. “When I see people leaving here having had a great night, I still get a huge buzz. La Bonne Auberge still gives me the same joy, 44 years on.”

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