When a friend invited me to eat at a new Paris restaurant, Le Servan, I immediately turned to the Web to learn more about it, but could find only one mention – amazing in the age of seemingly omniscient and omnipresent food bloggers, and inexplicable, given that the chef, Tatiana Levha, is the girlfriend of Bertrand Grébaut, chef/owner of Septime, one of the hottest restaurants in town, who, by the way, obviously takes an interest in the proceedings, since he was ensconced at the bar all evening (without interfering at all) when we were there last Saturday evening.
Bonnie, the friend who took me there, had also introduced me to Septime soon after it opened, so my expectations for Le Servan were high. They were not disappointed.
Located on the rapidly gentrifying Rue Saint Maur, Le Servan is a sister act, with Tatiana, an alumnus of L’Arpège and L’Astrance, in the kitchen and Katia in the attractive dining room, whose stark modern décor contrasts with the elaborate molding and pretty frescoes on the ceiling, uncovered during the restaurant’s transformation from a gritty bar/café into a restaurant.
Soon after we arrived, we were offered a complimentary glass (Bonnie is a friend of the sisters’ mother) of one of the best sparkling Vouvrays I have ever sipped: Le Naturel, from Sébastien Brunet.
The menu is short and interestingly varied, with three zakouskis (appetizers), five starters, three main courses and four desserts.
Our zakouskis were both stellar. Bonnie had a generous serving of piping hot coques (cockles) sprinkled with chili and fresh basil in a to-die-for sauce (this chef excels at light, flavorful sauces), while I tried something a little different: deep-fried ducks’ hearts, which came with a sweet chili sauce. Divine, and not a trace of grease.
For one starter, we ordered the caille (quail) with adobo sauce, so we could compare it with the blissfully good version of the same dish we had had at Ito. Levha’s version was different – served with chopped cucumbers, whole peanuts and a fried quail egg – but equally tasty.
Bonnie had white asparagus with a lovely tandoori cream sauce dusted with poutargue (dried fish eggs) and accompanied by delicate, delicious fried leaves. Another sublime combination.
Impressively, Levha was able to keep up the standards through every course. Our main dishes – barbue (brill) with butter and ginger sauce for Bonnie and a big lamb chop of impeccable quality (even the fat was delectable) for me – were both magnificent, as were the vegetables served with them.
The joy continued with the desserts. I ordered the profiteroles, curious about what Levha would do with this rather tired but beloved classic. Her version consisted of two little choux pastry puffs filled with pistachio ice cream and topped (rather than smothered, as is usually the case) with a subtle chocolate sauce and ground pistachios. Very good, but not as good as Bonnie’s “pamplemousse de Kalamata,” grapefruit with Greek yogurt and toasted granola. It may sound like breakfast, but it made a highly satisfying dessert.
With this we drank a fine 2011 bottle of natural Beaujolais from Michel Guignier, La Petite Oseille-Moulin à Vent (€34).
The only snag in the entire meal was the occasional long wait between courses, which seemed to stem from a problem in the kitchen, but with food like this, all can be forgiven, especially when the restaurant is a week-old fledgling.
A word of advice: get there before the bloggers do, or you’ll have a very hard time getting a reservation.Favorite