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With its understated frontage, set on a pretty square beneath the impressive Eglise Notre-Dame de la Croix, Roseval isn't quite what you'd expect to find in this rather out-of-the-way corner of Ménilmontant. Opened to rave reviews in 2012 by a crack team of hot young chefs (Brit Michael Greenwold and Sardinian Simone Tondo), the formula was an attractive one: high-end cooking through a set menu of several small courses, at prices which compared favourably to other restaurants in the bracket. Times have changed though – prices are up to €50 a head with €25 for matched wines, and Greenwold departed in September 2014 in the direction of The Sunken Chip.
On a Monday night the small dining room filled up quickly with a young, international crowd. The space is understated, all bare brick, candlelight and fresh flowers – a pretty, intimate, romantic corner. And there's clearly ambition and nous in the kitchen, as tiny, beautifully presented plates flew out briskly. There was a perfectly creamy, tender scallop topped with tiny edible pansies, then squares of salty mackerel with agreeably crunchy sprouts and blobs of whipped ricotta, then a single meaty langoustine curled into a thick celeriac soup. And those were just for starters – we then moved on to a tranche of hake topped with dandelions and cushioned by a pillow of Jerusalem artichoke purée, then a pretty pink piece of lamb, before a fan-like arrangement of finely-sliced Tomme Laïous cheese, warm pear with more edible flowers and, finally, a panna cotta topped with warm chocolate. All this reads very nicely, but we came away without any of the dishes really grabbing our imagination, and feeling rather let down by an overall uniformity of texture and flavour and a lack of indulgence – should you still feel hungry after 8 courses and €50? In contrast, the matched wine selection was splendid, the waiter explaining each choice carefully and the bold flavours greatly enhancing the meal. The wine list is short but enticing, with unusual French bottles declined by region, with a few other European vintages thrown in for good measure.
Service is brisk although curiously inconsistent; nothing was offered on arrival, nor did they suggest an alternative for a pregnant friend who couldn't eat the cheese course. Meanwhile, the chef's friends spent most of the evening chatting with him by the kitchen hatch, blocking the way to the toilet and hovering over nearby tables. Sadly, on this occasion Roseval promised a lot more than was delivered, and we can't help feeling as if their third year has not got off to a great start. Perhaps Greenwold took the zing with him.
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30pm-11pm|