"Long considered to have fallen behind London as a culinary trendsetter, the French capital is viewed condescendingly by all but the most informed of foodies and Francophiles on this side of the Channel as a teacher we've outgrown. They will point to crummy tourist-trap brasseries, overblown haute cuisine and McDonald's at the Louvre as evidence of its dramatic fall from grace. And where it does succeed, it is still playing catch-up, poor thing, they will simper. The truth is, here in London, we have nothing to learn from Paris any more.On an early autumn night a few weeks ago, however, I found myself in east Paris, in the rough and ready 20th arrondissement, receiving what felt like a re-education in dining out. A French friend had recommended Roseval, a new restaurant run by talented young chefs Michael Greenwold, a 28-year-old Brit, and Simone Tondo, a 24-year-old Sardinian, that has become an instant hit since its July opening.
An unassuming little corner plot, Roseval seats around 20 in its pocket-square-sized dining-room. Roughly plastered white walls and simple wooden furniture allow the space to breathe but retain a homely feel. Unlike London, where the fashion for "no-bookings" means a meal now routinely begins with a two-hour wait, there's no queuing or names on clipboards, just plain old reservations. And no choosing what to eat, either – like many Paris restaurants now, Roseval offers a set menu only, although you can ring ahead for special requirements. I was more than happy to cede control – a welcome pause in the endless flow of decision-making, there's also something companionable about eating the same thing as everyone else at the table.
Paris, meanwhile, is full of possibilities. Happily for its denizens, Roseval is not a bargainous aberration, but typical of a local, independent restaurant scene founded on the talents of a fresh generation of young chefs, many of whom are not French, but have cut their teeth in some of the city's most creative kitchens and are now boldly striking out alone with their first ventures. Yes, there is also a clutch of trendy burger and steak joints, but they aren't setting the tone. Meg Zimbeck, editor of the Paris by Mouth restaurant blog, cites the recently opened Abri and the reopened Vivant Table, both of which have Japanese chefs, alongside Roseval as her top picks of the new season."