Mission is that lover you want roll around with all day on a grey Sunday, till your hair is in knots and you just don’t care. The lover whose scar on his left hip you want to run your tongue over and hear the story of how it got there, time and time again. Unlike Pollen Street Social, who has no scars.
Side note: these are restaurants; restaurants do not have hips or scars. This is a metaphor, in English class at high school we were told that these were good to use in creative writing.
How and why we ending up at Mission was because of Drapers Arms, our favourite pub. Favourite because we can bring the dog, eat great food, drink great wine and have great service. Pretty standard needs, but often hard to get. On Broadway you would say Drapers Arms was a triple threat. One day we went and the food was great, but different. With a little sleuthing we discovered it was a new chef – so where was James de Jong? Another sleuthing affair (Google) lead us to Mission. Who were Mission? We discovered that Mission was Sager + Wilde's restaurant, opening very soon. Nancy Drew, we're after your job!
OMG Sager + Wilde were opening a restaurant! Wicked. So of course once open, we went! We went on a Monday night, which really is my favourite night (see post about Pollen Street Social about what are my favourite times to eat).
Mission, and James de Jong's food, is how I like to eat. Perfection and comfort, messy and purposeful, warmth and detail all wrapped up in a plate of love. It is home through rose-tinted glasses. It’s not 'my home' (that would be rice and chicken curry) but you can taste that is someone's home. You can eat the memories and the nostalgia.
As per usual in very place, some things are fine (the mussels) some things are amazing (the lentils). Or at least you hope you get amazing, to counteract the 'just fine' plates.
So the lentils - they came with gorgeous lamb. But I just want to talk about the lentils, cos that's what excited me the most and I think sums up Mission the best. They tasted the way my herb garden smells after an autumn shower. Earthy and fragrant – rosemary, thyme, sage, all fresh and wet and light. It was like tasting part of a colour spectrum – where blues fades into green, that fades into yellow - you can taste each flavour, but you don’t know where one flavour starts and the other finishes. Across it all, a lightness (citrus?) so that the earthly flavours were never dragged down to musk.
Given that Sager + Wilde are a wine bar, it is understandable that the front of house was excellent - knowledgeable and friendly. Such expertise!
I started with champagne, which was fine. But I should have done what JB did – had a glass of white wine. He had a delicious Californian (probably a chardonnay). He totally won that round! We requested a surprise for dinner – criteria: a Californian red, between £80 - £100 (we wanted the wine to be the star of the meal, so pushed our usual budget).
All I can remember was that it was a La Pleiade vineyard! Should have taken a photo – too busy having a good time.
It was £89, was an unusual blend, one of the grapes was pinot noir. We were made to guess the grape/s, which was fun. We managed to guess the pinot, probably why that's pretty much all I remember about the details. But it was delicious! Perfect for what we were eating, on a blustery, Monday night (not too heavy, as it was the beginning of the week, but also nice and warming).
And then, and then... I'm getting all excited and want to tell you all at once!
The attention, the enthusiasm and the knowledge of the staff was super cool. It made the eating interesting and pleasurable.
The drinks menu was superb. Of course, I hear you say, but – it's what they do with the menu and the ethos behind a lot of the drinks. There are a number of drinks (predominantly post-dinner) where the mark up is barely there. You can have a tea for £8 that is usually £27 in posh hotels. There are cognacs for £5 that are near double that in other places.
I feel that this restaurant is about "you". It is about you being able to access the best meal you can have. And the meal starts from when you walk into the door, till when you walk out, it's not just about the food. It's about every detail.
My friend said to me today that what makes a good meal 'good' is - the staff, the food, the ambience, the décor… the full package. And when it's good, it's emotional. She said she's been near tears when it's been good; and is always turned on, when it's good.
And you know what happens when you're good? Santa gives you presents! Let's all be a little bit naughty and a little bit nice and definitely good, for Santa.
We ate there right at the beginning of Novemeber, 2014.
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