In the village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, it's a place of choice to meet up and socialise. L'Art B is a friendly establishment where people come to have a drink, eat and experience village life. Meet Raphaël, owner of L'Art B.
What is the story behind your restaurant?
— Antoine and I bought this restaurant in 2020 and opened in October of that year. We only had 13 days of business before closing due to COVID. It was the very start of the adventure. We wanted to start a business in the valley and this was the opportunity that made the project possible. Everything lined up to make the plan happen, because we believed in the idea, the location and the development potential, despite that first year of COVID.
What changes have you made since you became owner?
— We have invested in the terraces. The product was good, but it could have been improved. We wanted to respond to the current demand and offer something that was up to date, both in terms of layout and the menu. The terrace is new since autumn 2021, as are the furniture, sunbeds and parasols.
Did the bar downstairs work as it does now?
— Not at all, it used to be more of a daytime bar and now it's an après-ski evening bar, with opening times from 4pm to 2am. It's an ambient bar with music. This winter there was also some concerts on the terrace and there will be next winter too.
What dish best represents the establishment?
— The most successful dish is lamb shank with polenta fries. It's not a signature dish but people really like it. Otherwise the signature dish is more L'Art B Burger, which is also worth trying.
Which dessert do you recommend?
— My favourite dessert is the chocolate mousse with hazelnut pieces, but that's my personal preference. The chocolate fondant is still the best presented dessert, the nicest and the most pleasant to eat.
How does it work in the kitchen?
— There are 4 people in the kitchen. I have a chef, an assistant chef and two commis chefs. The chef, Fabrice, was here before we bought the restaurant and he decided to stay because he is a year-round employee and lives here. I'm planning to hire the second chef on a year-round basis as well.
— The chef is a real support. He knows the establishment very well; he has experiences with the seasons and knows how things should go.
What is the ethos of your cuisine?
— Traditional and generous. In general, when you leave here, you are no longer hungry.
What are your prospects for the future?
— I am going to cover the terrace with large, heated parasols. I also have some other projects but it's still too early to talk about them :)
Do you prefer summer or winter?
— Winter is when everything happens. Summer is nice too, customers have more time, but in winter we're at the foot of the slopes, in the 3 Vallées area. There is both pedestrian and skier access.
Why L'Art B?
— It's a play on words with dialect: arbé, which means mountain chalet. It's a nod to the old properties in the valley. The B refers to the Belleville valley and the art of the Belleville, the burger, the Bistro etc. We also exhibit works in the restaurant by an artist from the valley.
Visit the website of the L'Art B restaurant