No one would blame you for strolling past and not realizing it’s there. One can only assume the location’s obscurity was a key factor in the demise of the last several ventures that have optimistically opened and slowly dragged to a close over the past few years. The tiny nook on West Fourth, between Maple and Cypress, has served as home to a variety of restaurants that should have played well into the youthful Kits scene (such as the August Jack, a tapas and craft-beer joint, which lasted little more than a year). But for unknown reasons that so often can plague a venue, nothing has managed to succeed here, despite being in the midst of a strip where many other restaurants have flourished.
Despite the horror stories, chef Curtis Luk (the Parker) and Chase McLeod (former GM at Fable) took possession of the place and distinguished it with bright, white-washed walls and an attention-grabbing sign, and installed more than 70 lights to make it unmissably vibrant to passersby. (Also added: some serious bar skills from Justin Darnes—formerly of Pidgin and Tacofino—whose cocktail program is focused around both sweet and savoury flavours. Would you prefer your gin sloe, or lemon-infused from a barrel?)
Everything about Mission makes it clear that this isn’t the product of industry newbies. On a recent visit, the tasting menu, offered with or without wine pairings (four courses, $45; six courses, $65; pairings $30 or $45, respectively), perfectly suited the relaxed business meeting beside us, while the à la carte and nose-to-tail daily special (think glazed duck leg with apricot mostarda and wheat berries, or slow-roasted salmon with a clam and tomato panzanella) matched the needs of our hungry yet curious crew.
As our server described to us the family-style meal the staff likes to have before service, and McLeod popped by to discuss some serious dessert wine with us, it became apparent that every table receives the same care, the same attention to detail, the same eagerness to show off a product the kitchen is proud of.
And the dessert. Oh, my, the dessert. Goat-milk ice cream with candied beets and a salted caramel sauce? Just try it—you won’t leave disappointed, because you’ve just found your new local. Take that, kiss of death.