Home 2020-09-18T17:27:45+02:00
  • Open every day from 10 am
  • Non-stop kitchen between 12pm and 12am (except on Sundays and holidays until 11pm)
    Last order 12am.

  • No reservations except for groups from 15 guests on the upper floor. Book our First Floor venue
  • Heated terrace open all year round
  • Easy parking
  • We accept the following credit cards: Maestro-Visa-Mastercard-American Express

  • Closed on 24/12 and 31/12 from 3 PM.

In the kitchen, the chef Thierry Strauven and his team offer a fixed and seasonal menus, favoring ultra fresh ingredients (no vacuum-packed or frozen foods here!). All our products provide from small, carefully selected Belgian artisans. We prefer seasonal products (fruits and vegetables).

All our dishes are prepared with care and know-how in the house: ice cream, pastries, sauces, French fries, croquettes, etc.


A bit of history

In 1968 our father and grandfather Albert Niels (1917-1978) took over le Café de la Justice. He also purchased the building.

The Grand Sablon was not like it is today. Back then it was an insignificant square situated between up and downtown Brussels and a dwelling place for numerous artists. Hergé had his studio on the square. René Magritte and Paul Delvaux were frequent visitors. The artists of the movement COBRA held their meetings at 30 rue de la Paille.

Albert Niels then began renovation works with the collaboration of the designer Christophe Gevers.

They had a penchant for noble materials: massive oak, leather, steel, copper, brass, Belgian bluestone.

They turned the restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin into a place that appeared in the forefront of trends in the late sixties. Today the interior decoration remains virtually similar.

Lots of works of various artists hanged on the walls in the restaurant.

In november 1968 the restaurant opened its doors, and from the first moment on, it proved successful, and its turnover grew steadily.

The only vestige remaining from Le Café de la Justice was the cult-painting “Toi jeune homme ne te désespère point” which was a portrait of the French writer Lautréamont (1846-1890).

Albert Niels was a great art collector, and in 1965 during an auction he found a sculpture of Saint Martin dating from XVI century, and he decided to name his restaurant after this Patron Saint of the poor.

In 1988 massive transformation works were carried out by his sons Albert-Jean and Philippe over a period of five weeks. This involved digging out a basement to install the lavatories, a brand new kitchen was also fitted with a pioneering ventilation system, a vast banquet hall was created on the first floor of the restaurant. These works created a 30 % increase of space for tables in the restaurant.

Redecorating works are undertaken regularly to maintain and embellish what has been done over the last fifty years.

Famille Niels

  • 1890: Birth of Joseph Niels, son of farmers from Pajottenland (Hal Enghien Ninove). A disease wipes out the livestock and the prospects at the farm vanish.
  • 1908: Joseph Niels decides to go to Great Britain and he starts working in the Savoy Hotel in London.
  • 1915: Joseph Niels returns to Belgium. He becomes the director of the restaurant called La Taverne Royale in the Queens Gallery.
  • 1924: Joseph Niels creates the recipe for the dish named  Filet Américain, which is still the same today.
  • 1926: Joseph Niels opens the hotel-restaurant Canterbury located at 129 Boulevard Emile Jacqmain.
  • 1935: Independant Pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition.
  • 1940: Joseph Niels passes away. His sons Albert (1917-1978) and Georges (1919-2000) continue his work.
  • 1948: Opening of the shop Nielsvins. Albert and George Niels run the restaurant La Couronne located on the Brussels Grand Place. They also own the restaurant The Claridge located in Buenos Aires for two years.
  • 1958: The Argentine government ask Albert and Georges Niels to represent the Argentine Pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition. Then Albert and George Niels then decide to go their separate ways. Albert Niels continues to work with his sons Michel, Philippe and Albert-Jean.
  • 1968: Opening of the restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin on the Grand Sablon.
  • 1971: Opening of the restaurant La Marie-Joseph located at the Fishmarket.
  • 1974: Opening of the restaurant Au Duc d’Arenberg on the Petit Sablon.
  • 1978: Albert Niels passes away. His sons take over the business but Michel quickly decides to go his separate way.
  • 1992: Opening of the restaurant Le Canterbury in Ixelles.
  • 2011: Albert -Jean and Philippe Niels decide to part paths and to work with their respective children. Albert-Jean together with his son Frédéric run the restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin.
  • 2015: Opening of the restaurant Au Grand Forestier in Watermael-Boitsfort.
  • 2017: Opening van Les Chambres de Martin above our restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin.
  • 2018: Opening of the restaurant Au Savoy on Place Georges Brugmann in Ixelles.


Where do you find us?

GPS 50.8409382, 4.3545055

Our restaurant is located in the centre of the Place du grand Sablon with a splendid view of the Church of the Sablon. The Sablon is the Brussels district of arts and crafts trade. We are two minutes from the Mont des arts (Bozar, Magritte museum,…), two blocks from the Waterloo Boulevard where the most beautiful fashion houses are found and of course next to the Grand Place of Brussels.