A new, hot bistro in Paris is run by Filipino-French sisters
A TASTE OF LIFE - Heny Sison (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2016 - 12:00am

Tucked away in the 11th arrondissement of Paris is a small restaurant that has the capacity to sit 40 people for a la carte. Called La Servan, it has forged into the restaurant business in the bustling gastronomic city of Paris, no less.

One of my closest friends, Neal Oshima, requested that I go and visit Le Servan, so with my family in tow, we tried our luck to see if we could be accommodated. But we were unlucky because they were fully booked that day. However, they were kind enough show us their menu and the place. I introduced my family and myself. I told them that that their place was highly recommended by Neal. They told us that in case there was a cancellation they would call us.

This culinary gem happens to be run by a team of half-Filipina, half-French sisters, better known as Levha sisters. Tatiana Levha is a chef who trained under Pascal Barbot at Astrance and Alain Passard at Arpège before teaming up with her sister, Katia Levha, who manages everything from the wine list to printing the menus and anything else Le Servan needs to keep it running smoothly.

The day after, we got a call from Katia, who told me that there was a cancellation and they could accommodate us. So off we went, excitedly looking forward to our dining experience.

My advice for those planning to dine at Le Servan is to make a reservation in advance, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to get a table. People reserve in advance and start lining up before this classy, unpretentious French bistro opens its doors at 7:30 p.m.

Their menus are printed 45 minutes before they open their doors because their menu changes every day. It is spontaneous and depends on what is locally available or in season. The dishes they serve have been dubbed as contemporary French cuisine with an Asian twist.

We ordered veal brain poached in butter and sorrel, pig’s ear with vinaigrette prepared like kinilaw, a codfish dish and grilled steak with sidings. Other diners looked at our food since we were the first to arrive. They were curious as to what we ordered, and that curiosity was understandable since Le Servan is not predictable or typical. In fact, the food is not expensive. The ambiance of the place is neo-bistro with a relaxed and cozy atmosphere.

I wanted to know what fuelled their passion for opening Le Servan, so I asked the Levha sisters some questions on what drives them in this excellent endeavor.

PHILIPPINE STAR:  What inspired you to establish Le Servan and how do you define the cuisine that you serve?

TATIANA LEVHA: We did what seemed most natural to us, an informal bistro with 40 seats. We meant to put up a restaurant together for years and the moment came for both of us three years ago to open Le Servan. The food we serve is a kind of classic French cuisine with a fusion twist in each dish. We partly grew up in Asia and Tatiana worked in three-Michelin-star restaurants (Arpège and Astrance) where she learned how to work with beautiful products and it was only natural to blend our experiences and to serve food the way we like to eat.   

What drew you to this location? Are there any plans of expansion?

This location was not specific at first but it turned out that we found this place. We knew it was the right one. The east of Paris is also a more affordable part of the city for young people who are getting started and the 11th arrondissement has therefore become a very dynamic area in terms of restaurant openings. We definitely have many ideas for future openings but we have to find time to work on that.

The menu is famous for changing every day, sometimes from lunch to dinner. How do you decide on your daily offerings? Is it based on a prearranged set of dishes or does it depend on readily available ingredients?

The menu evolves every day around what products are available, affordable and in season, and the kitchen’s ideas during briefings. Nothing is prearranged. We have a team that has worked together for a long while and everyone is used to adapting to daily changes and are happy to have responsibilities in creating the menu. We all love food very much and we are very aware that it is a privilege to have the freedom to change the menu on a daily basis.

How do you see Le Servan five years from now? What advice can you give to young restaurant owners out there?

We hope Le Servan will be the same as it is in five years because the atmosphere is really nice. The customers and the team are very loyal and we are very happy as it is. We hope we will succeed in opening in different places and developing the team’s work.

We have no advice to give because we are beginners in being young restaurant owners!



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Le Servan is located at 32 Rue San Maur, 75011 Paris. For information, call 01 55 28 51 82.

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