More news from the East, kids.
This geographic bias isn’t intentional; it’s just these days pretty much everything good seems to happen east of Regent Street if I’m being generous, Farringdon Road when selective.
Some of you can be smug about where you chose to squat, others should consider taking the occasional trip to see what all the noise is about. Don’t expect that journey to change you life, but there are some massively creative, vibrant, interesting things out there worth experiencing, rather than just dismissing as ‘hipster’.
One (ridiculously) Good Reason to get on the central line and get off again at Bethnal Green, is the Sunday BBQ at the front of Mission’s railway arch.
To be blunt, Mission itself is good enough reason to visit this part of town: I’ve mentioned the great food offer before; ditto the wine and cocktails. Both of these are still very much on offer on a Sunday.
But the quietly launched and hugely intriguing BBQ on Mission’s patio is what you should use your Oyster or Uber credit for. I reckon it’s the best thing to happen to cooking over flames in London since Dave Pynt took Burnt Endz to Singapore. And I say that in full knowledge and appreciation of the many London Log Co fuelled ventures that have sprung up in the last couple of years – from Peckham Bazaar, through Som Saa, Smoking Goat, Kitty Fishers and everything in between.
Niall Davidson is a farmer turned butcher turned itinerant chef, who’s worked in half the restaurants you’ve heard of and most of those you haven’t but should’ve over the last couple of years. He’s either rubbish so gets moved on, or just has massive work ADHD and is trying to absorb a lot before settling down (assuming he ever does). The latter reason seems most likely.
At Mission, he’s running an ambitious yet informal set up with four or five other chefs beavering away alongside, I think whilst on their day off from their usual restaurant. When we turned up (it runs from 4pm to 10:00pm), there were two or three large bone-in joints of pork hanging from a cross over a rudimentary South American style fire pit. The crackling looking insane. Another glance caught a view of a couple of ridiculous looking picanha cuts (beef rump cap) about to go the grill, and some large spider crabs staring up, saying ‘eat me’.
As at Burnt Endz, those eye-catchers are for communal eating and probably work out as a tenner per head. Options and prices are chalked up on the wall behind the grill.
On the right side of the menu were some smaller dishes, ranging from £3.50-£15 per slot. The St John style, ingredient led descriptions gave just a hint about what was about to happen.
We ate awesome, blackened, sweetheart cabbage that had been dressed in a reduced trotter gear take on PX sauce (traditionally dried shrimp and chilli); blushing pink rump steak came with charred broad bean pods and doused in a little chilli and a flavoursome oil (kelp?) – we reckoned the burn made pod edible as well as bean, and were right; tender strips of cuttlefish were scattered among pieces of blackened then soggy bread, a drenching of reduced buttermilk, raw gooseberries and elderflower (yes, it worked); and, best of the lot, grilled leek hearts and crunchy rice crackers on an addictive pistachio miso – which went straight into top five eats of the year.
Of course we had the spider crab, the head of which was filled with samphire and its own juices. This was superb once spoons found and we’d kindly been brought extra bread for dipping. If I’m honest, the smaller plates were more successful – largely because the work:reward ratio when eating one of these isn’t particularly favourable. Still, it had to be done.
I believe the menu changes each week – things are experimental, informal, occasionally hair brained – and I’ve no idea how long Niall and his crew will hang around. So don’t hold back, regardless of your post code.
Bethnal Green – specifically: Mission, Sundays, 4-10pm. (Mission is also open 7 days a week and worth a visit)
One Good Reason
Mission Grill. You could spend less, but for the best experience go in a group of 3-6, share a bunch of things and a bottle of something more spenny that you’d usually go for, and put the card in for £30-50 a head.
Update 5 October 2016: Mission (now Sagar + Wilde Paradise Row) ran a BBQ even on Sundays through summer 2016, so hopefully this is now a thing. No idea what Niall’s up to, though.