The space is both raw and refined, the cooking both adventurous and classical, the staff both young and possessed of impressive culinary CVs. Le Servan perfectly expresses the creative tension of the ubiquitous 'bistronomie' movement – both accessible and creative – without feeling like a cookie-cutter concept. Paris certainly seems to think so anyway, with bobos descending on the restaurant in waves at each feeding time.
The decor of the narrow oblong space with its 40 or so covers doesn't feel so much artfully distressed as like a collection of flea market finds that hit on some good feng shui – the cream walls and raw plaster columns offset the art deco bar and wall lamps, while the elaborate mouldings and trompe l'oeil ceiling with its patterns and clouds are balanced out by the haphazardly-stacked shelves and catering-sized bags of flour in the corner. It's run by the Levha sisters, Tatiana in the kitchen and Katia front of house. Tatiana has worked with Alain Passard at L'Arpège and Pascal Barbot at L'Astrance, so her confident approach to flavours is rooted in real technique (and her Philippine heritage), while Katia handles the on-trend natural wines.
At lunch, the €28 set menu has just two options at each of the three courses, so on our visit we tried everything. Handmade spring rolls with raw tuna, peanuts and an astringent dipping sauce were more like dumplings – delicate, fresh and fragant. We loved them. A pan-fried piece of calf's head with new potatoes, fresh red cabbage and touches of sweetness in the sauce was also a good balance of flavours and textures, the breading crisp and veal moist, though we struggled with the hairier bits. At mains, pollack with samphire and mussels was nice but forgettable; much more impressive was the gorgeous veal with roasted carrots, seasonal peas, a tangle of fresh leaves and a pink dollop of spicy rhubarb sauce. For dessert, fresh grapefruit with fromage blanc, strawberries and homemade granola topped with edible flower was a delight – less so, though pretty, was a slice of bright pink 'praline rose' tart which, despite the good gooseberry puree and yoghurt ice cream, tasted of sugar and not much else.
We felt that there was one very good meal here, but that the duff number at each course was troubling on a menu that makes a virtue of its brevity. That said, we'd be keen to return at dinner, to see what Le Servan can do when it's showcasing more of a range.
|Venue name:||Le Servan||Contact:|
32 rue Saint-Maur
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 12noon-2.30pm, 7.30pm-10.30pm|
|Transport:||Metro: Voltaire, Père Lachaise, Rue Saint-Maur, Saint-Ambroise|