16 April 2011

Swann et Vincent

It is a very rare occurence for me to walk into a restaurant in Paris and want to eat EVERYTHING.  My friend and I went for lunch, but we didn't establish a place to go in advance.  While walking to her apartment for our lunch date, I saw this cute little restaurant facade labeled "Swann et Vincent" on her quiet street in the 12th.  I honestly thought it was French (associated Swann with Proust's famous works.)  My friend just happened to suggest it, saying that she was really craving good Italian food.  Italian?!  So off we went.

My new favorite I-talian restau
"Buongiorno!" exclaimed the staff.  One server came over and gave the bises to my friend as he sat us down.  "Awesome," I thought, "I am eating with a regular."  In Paris, it is good to try to become a regular in a restaurant, especially if it is in your neighborhood.  You get better service, you get to test out new menu items that might not otherwise be offered to non-regulars, and you get neighborhood gossip.  How can you possibly beat that : awesome service, food, and juicy gossip?  In the entrance area sat a huge bar with prosciutto, roasted and marinated red peppers, various olives, fresh spring fruits, cannelli beans, and other antipasti.  As we settled in at our table, the huge chalkboard menu hung on the wall across from me.  It literally takes up the whole wall.  Antipasti, pasta, meat dishes, and the seasonal specials all stared back at me, tempting me.  I seriously considered doing as the Italians do, ordering an antipasto, a meat course, a fish course, and a dessert.  But since I have to fit into a wedding dress in about 2 months, I silenced my inner fat kid.

I ordered the veal escalope, and had to choose between three sauces : lemon, mozzarella, and butter/sage.  Fat kid cried out: "Ask for all three in little ramekins!" but I couldn't embarrass my friend.  The lemon sauce was picked, and oven roasted potatoes were served.  I looked around at other tables, and saw bright green pesto sauce on homemade gnocchi.  Mozzarella and tomatoes glistening under olive oil and dressed with fresh basil leaves.  Fried anchovies with homemade mayonnaise.  I wanted it ALL.  Even before being served my meal, I knew that this place was going to be one worth going back to.

The veal arrived and it was glorious.  Thin, golden brown veal cooked to perfection, with a lemon brown butter sauce that helped the meat melt in my mouth.  The potatoes were blanketed in fresh rosemary and mixed with whole cloves of roasted garlic.  The sweet garlic was so mild and didn't leave me with garlic breath (something I am sure Fab appreciated later in the day).  I polished that veal off as if I hadn't eaten in days.

Escalope de veau, sauce citron
I am a sucker for tiramisù.  I never liked it when I lived in the United States.  Perhaps because to me, it was too sugary or had too much of a liquor taste.  When Fab took me to Lake Como last year for a long weekend, I went for the tiramisù, and I never looked back.  I occasionally branched out and tried other desserts (mainly when strawberries were involved) but I generally came back to the tiramisù.  The one at Swann et Vincent was splendid.  The cake was firm and spongy, the cream thick and flavorful.  The liquor was not overpowering.  I felt it was covered with a little too much cocoa, but hey, God doesn't give with both hands.

I left Swann et Vincent thoroughly happy.  The people were nice, the dishes were simple but so flavorful, and the restaurant itself made me think for an hour and a half that I was in Rome instead of Paris.  This restaurant has become my reference for Italian food in Paris.  Buon appetito!

Swann et Vincent can be found at 7, rue Saint Nicolas in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris (métro Ledru-Rollin)
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; 15,90 Euro lunch menu


  1. sounds like a find! there seem to be lots of italian places to choose from, but not that many that I really like, so I'll add this to my list of to-try's!

  2. Would love to hear your thoughts Forest. I am the same way about Italian restaurants here in Paris, so I was very happy to eat in this place!