March 31, 2015
Despite its unassuming exterior and simple table settings, Le Servan is where serious diners go to both talk passionately about food and enjoy eating it. Located in the 11th arrondissement, an area with one of the highest concentrations of interesting and provocative dining addresses in the city, the restaurant successfully mixes classic and modern French cuisine, delivering the best of both.
The dining room at Le Servan embraces the quintessential Paris dining experience, with bare white walls, corner mouldings, delicate hand-painted ceiling murals, and a bar that is typical of Paris bistrot culture. A genuine interest and passion for food and ingredients is equally apparent here. The young staff, lead by the sister team of Katia and Tatiana Levha, is dedicated to using fresh ingredients to create dishes that embody the given season without being redundant.
Squeezed into a small table between a couple of wine professionals and a pair of professional eaters, we enjoyed the totally affordable lunch menu, which includes a starter, main, and desert or cheese for 25€.
Fried pork ravioli in a bittersweet bouillon was a welcome warm beginning to lunch on a cold February day. And the dish paired perfectly with the bright, crisp white wine we from La Sorga in the Languedoc-Roussillon region that we’d chosen (32€).
The star of the starter menu was easily what my lunch date ordered: a beautifully plated arrangement of leeks vinaigrette with softly steamed meaty mussels, a hearty handful of fresh herbs, and hidden gems of cubed blood oranges that were a delight to discover along the way.
When meals start this way, your day slows down and – no matter what you have planned later that day – you take the time to linger between bites, arranging forkfuls to share with your partner, oblivious to the passage of time.
Settling into our meal, we were gradually able to overlook the mounting volume of the chatter around us. In such an unadorned dining space, echoes are inevitable and this made for a raucous eating environment, which did affect our experience.
Do your best to avoid being distracted by the loud assertions of fellow foodies as they order another bottle of wine and allow yourself to be absorbed with the thoughtful food prepared by Tatiana and the kitchen team. And I say if you can’t beat them, join them – by the second course we had switched from white to red, ordering a very reasonably priced bottle of Nicolas Reau from Anjou.
The two choices for main courses were equally tempting, but vastly different. A beef confit with carrots and treviso radicchio promised a classic winter meal; while a line-caught white fish with fresh herbs, a bright green parsley cream, topped with vibrant watercress announced the arrival of spring.
As the wine kept flowing and our lunch hour became closer to two hours, we were faced with a decision: cheese or dessert? I find it hard to remain objective here and feel I must say that you’d be foolish not to opt for the dessert.
Prepared by a young pastry chef who is both respectful of tradition and flexible in the kitchen, we witnessed a parade of steaming caramel soufflés brighten up faces when delivered to their tables. As our leisurely lunch reached its final act, we learned that the soufflés stock had been depleted, but that a puff pastry accompanied by vanilla cream and salted caramel could be arranged. These are the moments that remind me why I moved to France, where time stands still in the face of good food, and cream puffs magically appear for dessert.
Le Servan – 32 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011. Tel: +33 (0)1 55 28 51 82.
Open Monday 19h30-23h, Tuesday-Friday 12h30-14h30 and 19h30-23h. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
- Check out Septime, an inventive and refined restaurant in the 11th arrondissement headed by Tatiana’s boyfriend, Bertrand Grébaut.
- More farm-to-table restaurants in Paris, including L’Arpege, where Tatiana worked before opening her own restaurant.
- Tatiana reveals her favorite cafés, restaurants, and other addresses around the city to VOGUE Paris.
Written by Emily Dilling
Emily Dilling is a Paris-based American. She is the founder of the blog Paris Paysanne, which documents her quest to find local farmers and seasonal produce at Paris markets. Emily’s writing has also appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post (US & French editions), Ecosalon, The Portland Mercury, and Local Spotter.
Website: Paris Paysanne
Photos by Briag Courteaux
Briag Courteaux has been living and working in Paris independently since 2009 as a photographer, working between documentary, personal research, institutional assignments, and private projects.
Website: Briag Courteaux
Tags: 11eme, 11th arrondissement, Bistrot, Briag Courteaux, cuisine, Dessert, Dining, dinner, Emily Dilling, Food, formule, French, Fresh, ingredients, Katia Levha, Le Servan, Lunch, restaurant, seasonal, Tatiana Levha, wine
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