East London is perhaps my favourite part of the city right now. Shoreditch, in particular, has many great bars and pubs and the food scene is thriving. For example you have Brick Lane with the curry mile as well as various food stalls along the strip. Moreover you have Hawksmoor Steak restaurant ( future article watch this space!!), Marco Pierre Whites establishment and great gastro pubs such as The Princess of Shoreditch.
A mate of mine recommended a Californian wine bar and kitchen that had only just been opened a few months ago in the Bethnal Green area called Mission and it was recently awarded five stars from Timeout. The restaurant is located only a few minutes from the underground station along Passenger Row and is literally built underneath the rail tracks of the overground. Its a remarkable looking restaurant with its impressive array of wines on show and it definitely blends well with the whole East London “hipster vibe” with the sommeliers wearing double denim attire as well as the furniture having that rugged wood look.
Saying that its not a restaurant that is trying to be pretentious. Its just following the trends that people are into at the moment and its working. You get customers coming into socialise whether they’re young impressionable students or friends dining after a days work.
The menu is simple, very reasonably priced, and more importantly appetizing.
To get things going, we went to town on some great cheeses and charcuterie. The were strong, full of flavour and the strength of them really complimented with the red wine I was guzzling down. The bread was warm and crusty and the onion marmalade was sticky and sweet.
The sliced meats consisting of Parma ham and salami were rich, salty and melted in your mouth. Eating it with the soft ripened figs and huge vinegary caperberries is a must. What a start!!.
Next to arrive were the mussels and they were banging. Lovely fragrant flavours inspired by the Far East. The broth had the perfect balance of hot, sour, sweetness and saltiness. Not only that, the mussels themselves were plump, sweet and juicy.
One of my favourite dishes from the evening was the whipped lardo and girolles. What I will tell you about lardo I hope won’t put you off because believe me its one of the tastiest ingredients I have had. Lardo is basically strips of fat from the pig. This particular lardo was whipped and it was salty, smooth and creamy. If you go to mission, be adventurous and try the Lardo. You never know it could be your new favourite dish.
Again please don’t let the idea of having pigs head put you off coming here. It was crispy on the outside as it was deep fried and lets be honest everyone loves deep fried food. The meat inside was crumbly and soft and it worked so well with the tzatiki. I should have ordered another portion.
Now I’m going to be honest, I absolutely hate anchovies. These particular ones were smoked. Enough said about this particular dish but I’m sure anchovy lovers out there would demolish this just like my friends did.
Over the past few years I have been addicted to raw/ rare foods. I can’t get enough sushi in my belly and I love my steaks rare. Tartare is no exception and this one I had was made from ox heart and by jove it was delicious.
The lamb rump was juicy and was cooked the way it should be, pink in the middle. I tried caponata for the first time and it was beautiful. The aubergines slowly cooked and fried with sweetened vinegar, capers and lots of fresh herbs.
I was told the mackerel was the most popular dish on the menu and I can see why. I love fish presented whole. It was charred to perfection and the meat was moist and flaked of the bone. I even went full Chinese and ate the head (obviously you don’t need to do that).
Its such a simple dish with the fiery horseradish cream and the three way beetroot (candied, pickled and roasted).
All in all Mission was a success. Great location, fantastic company and moreover some of the tastiest food I have ever consumed. I would definitely go again and it would be interesting to see what future concepts they come up with as the seasons go by.
So FoodPunkers, your mission should you choose to accept, is to check out this place.