Capitale Belleville, A Liberated Café

Capitale Belleville, A Liberated Café

What could be more surprising than founding a café without enjoying the basic drink? An amusing anecdote shared by Margot Lecarpentier, head of Capitale Belleville, an address in the 19th arrondissement of Paris that offers a fresh and innovative hybrid vision of the café, beyond the all too familiar stereotypes of the genre. At 10 rue Pradier, things are seen differently. ‘It’s not a restaurant, or a bar, or a coffee shop’, explains the entrepreneur from Capitale Belleville’s predecessor, Combat Belleville, already endorsed by mixology aficionados. So, how to describe the unique atmosphere that suffuses this welcoming eating area with an old-fashioned charm? By not focusing on café culture, the owner advocates for another principle: diversity. Here, the drinks and dishes are conceived along with Carl, the English head chef on duty behind the counter, in the spirit of eclecticism! For this young woman, this collaborative menu reflects her obvious love of good food and desire for inclusivity in this latest project: ‘We eat and drink all day… sweet, salty, warm, cold, non-alcoholic and alcoholic.’ Capitale Belleville therefore plays host to a community of foodies with diverse palates. A clientele that will find daily specials incorporating dishes usually only available in the evenings in bars: from aromatic, crusty home-made cornbread to their Labneh topped with pears poached in Suze liqueur, to ricotta toast, kale and candied lemon. A variety of original dishes to try in an industrial setting – with its exposed brick and faded walls – in which second-hand furniture is given pride of place for a reduced ecological impact. Treasures uncovered, in the main, by Margot in her childhood home of Normandy. Conscious, welcoming and generous, Capitale Belleville represents a melting pot of the culinary and civic concerns of its founder.

Capitale Belleville, 10 rue Pradier, 75019 Paris. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 09:30 to 17:30. Sweet and savoury dishes to try throughout the day accompanied by hot and cold drinks. Takeaway available, collection on-site.

Tables en marbre et comptoir en bois chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Cocktail sur table de bistrot chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Étagère avec tableau chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
  • Margot, could you introduce yourself, please?
Margot

I’m an entrepreneur in the restaurant business. I have two businesses, Combat and Capitale, both located in the Belleville district of Paris.

  • Tell us about your background.
Margot

I grew up in Normandy and studied in Caen and Rennes. I then lived in London, then Paris and NYC. I originally worked in the music industry before moving into mixology. I discovered spirits in the USA. When I moved there in 2012, I didn’t know much about the cocktail world. I discovered the world of spirits and tasting them in New York bars, and it instantly became a passion! When I came back from the States, I looked for a job in a cocktail bar, and I was lucky enough to be trained at the amazing Experimental Cocktail Club, a pioneer in Paris. I quickly became part of the team behind the bar where I fitted in immediately. I was able to learn a lot and make my first creations. Then I opened Combat in 2017. I’d been wanting to start a business for several years, and the cocktail and bar business was the territory I wanted to explore. I wanted to open in the Belleville district. Cocktail culture wasn’t very highly developed there, and my more popular “cocktail bistro” concept was a perfect fit. I sought to create the most inclusive space possible, caring and open to everyone.

  • What is the story behind the name “Capitale Belleville”?
Margot

Capitale has the same goals as Combat but with a daytime offer. It’s a hybrid place, both in its menu and in its decor. Absolutely everything in Capitale is second-hand. The carbon footprint has been reduced to a minimum. As for the drinks menu, it’s highly eclectic and quite surprising. It’s suitable for all tastes and all diets. It is aimed at lovers of cocktails with and without alcohol, coffee lovers (or not) with a very varied list of hot drinks, and the cold drinks include not only soft drinks, but milk shakes too. There are no and low cocktails (no sugar and no-calorie), a fine beer selection, and so on. Capitale also has a kitchen, and we serve food right through from morning to evening (9.30 to 17.30). And all this is in Belleville! It’s the address that offers everything that’s essential in my eyes and in my Parisian capital: Belleville.

Margot Lecarpentier dans son café Capitale Belleville à Paris
Commode en bois avec Corbeil de fruit et bouteilles chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Plat sur tabouret chez Capitale Belleville à Paris

It's difficult to define Capitale and put a name to the ethos. I'm trying to free myself from a lot of rules and fashionable concepts.

Assise en cuir et tables chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Table en marbre et plat chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Frigo avec sticker chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
  • How would you describe the identity of the place?
Margot

It’s difficult to define Capitale and put a name to the ethos. I’m trying to free myself from a lot of rules and fashionable concepts. It’s neither a restaurant nor a bar, and it’s not a coffee shop. I suppose it’s a cafe. There’s no latte art here, and even though we love brunch, it’s not all about brunch at Capitale Belleville, either. You can eat and drink all day long, sweet, salty, hot, cold, non-alcoholic, and alcoholic. It’s a daytime café, seen through the eyes of a mixologist. My inspirations come from my daytime and evening outings and everything I taste. And for the musical side of things, I draw on my various experiences in record companies, and the team is an inexhaustible source of unexpected playlists.

  • This place follows on from the opening in 2017 of your first establishment, where you specialise in cocktails. But, surprisingly, you are not a fan of cafés, so what motivated you to open one?
Margot

The idea was to open a café that was not solely focused on coffee culture. If you’re not a coffee lover, it’s difficult to find an original drink in a coffee shop; and you often find the same food and nibbles.  So I wanted to create the atmosphere of a bar where small plates of food are enjoyed in the evening, but I wanted it to be a daytime concept.

  • What might we find on your menu?
Margot

I particularly enjoy our sweet and savoury waffle and our fragrant and crispy homemade cornbread – served with ranch dressing and pastrami. As far as drinks are concerned, I have a soft spot for our floral and invigorating chamomile coffee, our Doodh – a mixture of milk and 7up with pistachios – which can also be enjoyed as an alcoholic drink with sake, and finally our non-alcoholic cocktail, Green Opium, which is fragrant and aromatic.

  • What clientele is it aimed at?
Margot

EVERYONE

Étagère en bois chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Comptoir en bois et tabouret chez Capitale Belleville à Paris

It's a hybrid place, both in its menu and in its decor. Absolutely everything in Capitale is second-hand.

Étagère en bois chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Cuisine chez Capitale Belleville à Paris Cuisine chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
  • Capitale Belleville” is distinguished by its eclectic and vintage style. How have you furnished it?
Margot

As I said, everything in Capitale is second-hand. The logic of constantly destroying and rebuilding with new material no longer appeals to me in terms of eco-friendliness, sustainability and style. I furnished the space with the help of all the flea markets in Normandy, where my parents live. It took me two years to put it all together.

  • Did you have any favourite materials that guided the selection of your furniture?
Margot

I wanted to mix the concrete and brick on the walls with oak for the counter top to make it as simple as possible, raw and elegant. For the rest of it, the colours are soft: cream and beige. I’ve displayed lots of old trinkets and posters here – things I’ve had for years. So there’s a lot of me in the décor. Childhood memories, travel souvenirs. The bench outside was the one in my parents’ kitchen that I sat on when I was growing up. Some of the cutlery was also from my childhood. The decoration is mainly based on recycled materials.

  • How did you go about building your team?
Margot

Carl is the head chef at Capitale. He has a super-eclectic background. He’s worked in lots of restaurants with different concepts all over the world. He has significant experience in Michelin-starred restaurants. He’s also travelled extensively and lived for a few years in Australia, where the brunch and daytime eating culture is highly developed. Carl immediately captured the spirit of the menu and what I wanted to do with the place. He’s highly responsive and open to feedback, which makes for a great dialogue. But above all, he’s extremely talented and shares the same passion I have for simple ingredients.

  • Do you have any personal favourite places to recommend in your neighbourhood?
Margot

Tatanka, the toy shop on the street almost opposite Capitale. Pascal, the owner, is so kind and caring. As for his shop, you can see that it is run by a passionate person. He focuses on high-quality materials, robust objects and local production.

  • What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
Margot

It’s an inspiring shop and media offering for the individual and the professional alike. And with lots of ideas to pinch when you’re decorating a café!

Plat chez Capitale Belleville
Détails décoratifs chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Détails décoratifs chez Capitale Belleville à Paris

It's the address that offers everything that's essential in my eyes and in my Parisian capital: Belleville.

Enseigne chez Capitale Belleville à Paris
Margaot Lecarpentier devant la vitrine de son café Capitale Belleville à Paris

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