Non-stop kitchen between 12am and 12pm  |  Phone: +32 (0)2 512 64 76
Home 2018-08-23T15:34:40+00:00
  • Open every day from 10 am
  • Non-stop kitchen between 12 am and 12 pm (except on Sundays and holidays until 11 PM)
    Last order 12 AM.
  • 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 Mathieu Yesil 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 grand-father Albert Niels decided to take over the former Café de la Justice and purchase the rest of the building as well. He called upon the collaboration of modernist designer Christophe to redecorate the premises.

In those times, Sablon was quite an insignificant square between up- and downtown Brussels and a dwelling place for numerous artists (Tintin cartoonist Hergé had his studio on the square; surrealist painters Magritte and Delvaux were frequent visitors while avant-garde movement COBRA used to held its meetings at Rue de la Paille).


The interior’s decoration was 80% similar as it is nowadays. So the cult-painting named Toi Jeune, Ne te Désespère point (Young man, never despair !) and thought to be a portrait of the French writer Lautréamont, already hung on the same wall at Café de la Justice. Quite groundbreaking as a piece of interior design ! Given his penchant for noble materials (massive oak, leather, steel, copper, brass, Belgian bluestone, …), Gevers turned VSM into a place that would appear in the forefront of trends in the late sixties.

From the first moment on, the restaurant proved successful and its turnover was steadily growing.

De restaurant’s name Au vieux Saint-Martin was given by Albert Niels who, being himself a great art collector, used to stroll every morning around the Marolles quarter in search of flea-market treasures. One day he came across a medieval St Martin’s sculpture, so he decided to name the restaurant after this Patron Saint of the poor.

Huge transformation works were done in 1988  by two of his sons, Albert-Jean  and Philippe. These involved the digging-out of a basement to put up the lavatories, which provided for a 30% restaurant table increase on the ground level. A brand new kitchen was installed and so were a pioneering ventilation system and a vast banquet hall. The restaurant closed 5 weeks.

From then on, redecorating works are undertaken regularly to maintain and embellish what had been done for the last 50  years.

Famille Niels

Joseph Niels (1890-1940) was the son of farmers in the Pajottenland (triangle Hall, Enghien and Ninove). After a disease struck the livestock and his prospects at the farm vanished, he decided to leave to Great Britain. He went working at the Savoy Hotel in London which was then and still is very famous.

He returned to Belgium around the age of 25 and became the director of the restaurant La Taverne Royale at the Queens galleries.

In 1924, he invented the recipe of the Filet Américain. In 1926, he founded the hôtel restaurant Canterbury at the Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 129 (near the place de Brouckère) in memory of the British Isles.  In 1935, he manages an independent pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition Brussels World Exhibition.
After Joseph died in an accident in 1940, his two sons Albert (1917-1978) and Georges (1919-2000) took up his work.


They founded the store Nielsvins together in 1948, they also ran the restaurant La Couronne at the Grand Place and for two years, they were owners of the restaurant le Claridge in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As a result of their success, the Argentine government asked them to represent the Argentine restaurant at the universal exposition of 1958 in Brussels.
After the exposition,Albert and Georges Niels decided to each go their separate ways. The children of Georges did not continue in the restaurant business.

Albert continued to work with his 3 sons (Michel, Philippe and Albert-Jean). They opened 3 new restaurants. Au Vieux Saint Martin in 1968, La Marie Joseph in 1971 and Au Duc d’Arenberg in 1974. Albert died in 1978. His 3 sons take over his business. Philippe and Albert-Jean decided to get split from their older brother Michel mid of the eighties. In 1992, Philippe and Albert-Jean decided to open a new restaurant also called Canterbury at the “Etangs d’Ixelles”. Uncle Georges died in the US/Florida State in 2000.
Philippe and Albert-Jean decided to split each other and to work with their own children, in 2011.

Albert-Jean (son of Albert) and Frédéric Niels (grand son of Albert) run the restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin. This brasserie is open 7 days a week and offers the best of Belgian specialties.

In 2015, AJ & F Niels opened a new restaurant called “Au Grand Forestier” which serves Belgian Food, with one of the most beautiful terrace of the capital.

In October 2018, AJ and F Niels decide to open a new restaurant Place G Brugmann 35 in Ixelles. This restaurant will be open 7 days a week. More info will follow.


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.