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A taste of California in Bethnal Green - we Test Drive MissionWhat do we need to know about Mission?

This self-styled Californian wine bar and kitchen is the much-anticipated follow up to Sager + Wilde - the wine bar that turned how Londoners consume wine on its head in an oh-so-stylish way. While the original wine bar features some small plates and toasted cheese sarnies on the menu, this new venue has purloined the chef from Islington gastropub the Draper's Arms and is setting out to marry Californian style cooking with Italian influences.

Where is it?

On Paradise Row, tucked away behind Cambridge Heath Road on Paradise Gardens, just a stone's throw from Bethnal Green tube station.

Where should I meet friends for drinks first?

Obviously the answer should be here, given the drinks we tried, but if you are looking to meet up elsewhere, the obvious answer would be Peg + Patriot over the road at the Town Hall Hotel.

Where's the best place to sit?

If you've been clever enough to book the private dining room overlooking the main room, you'll have the best seat in the house. Failing that, we were sat by the windows looking out over the front courtyard space which was pretty nice as night fell.

So the food - what can we expect?

Chef James de Jong kicks off his menu with a great selection of bar snacks. 'Nduja arancini (£6.50) had already sold out by the time we turned up, unsurprisingly. Happily two sticks of crispy pigs head with tartare sauce (£6) worked well, along with sourdough and rustic grouse terrine served with slices of fig (£8) to soak up an array of mini cocktails.

From there we progressed through a wonderfully textured starter of octopus, farro, tomatoes and aioli (£8.50) as well as mussels, cider and guanciale (£9). Then it was onto the mains of cotechino with lentils (£15) and (our favourite) slow braised rabbit leg served with chanterelles and a tarragon jus poured over soft polenta (£17). Everything was decently portioned so we really didn't need the roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes (£3.50), but they were still excellent (and worth ordering from the bar snacks menu). 

Desserts are worth pacing yourselves for - particularly the dulce de leche cheesecake with cinder toffee which will give whoever doesn't order it, food envy.

If you are just stopping for a glass of wine or two, there's a selection of charcuterie, cheese and some of the smaller items from the main menu to choose from there. There's also a separate brunch menu and we like the sound of scrambled eggs and brown shrimp on sourdough (£7.50). 

Presumably the wine list is epic?

It is, and it's worth asking for the full list. We had the shorter version and would have potentially made a different choice had we seen the full five page list. As it was, we used the fact that everything on the short list was served by the glass to try something from the upper reaches of the list - a Sean Thackrey Viognier and a Sanford and Benedict Chardonnay from the Santa Rita hills.

There are all manner of wondrous wines you can try here - the list starts with their house wines at £23.50 and - when we were there - swooped all the way up to almost £2k for a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon. But when the mission statement is to only make £20 profit on any bottle of wine, you could be getting an amazing deal. What you need is Michael's help in working out what to choose. There's also an opportunity to buy anything on the list here to take home - just take £15 off the wine list price.

But we couldn't write up our meal here without mentioning the other drinks on the list here - the mini cocktails at £4.50 each including a pitch perfect Martini and Sazerac as well as an excellent pickleback using pickled samphire. Plus there's the tea list which has been given as much thought as the wine list. We were recommended a Master Obayashi’s Hijiri Hojicha – a roasted Okinawan tea where the roasting process reduces the caffeine, so that's perfect for a post-dinner treat.

Overall thoughts?

The arrival of Mission makes East London right now one of the most interesting, not to mention fun, places to go eating and drinking in this city. It's a wonderful space too - they've managed to turn the blank canvas of a railway arch into something quite magical. Go, try something new off the wine list you've never had before and enjoy yourself.

Mission is at 250 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE. Find out more about Mission

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Hot Dinners ate at Mission during its soft launch. Prices were correct at the time of writing.

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