Don’t you just love it when you find a fabulous place that only you and a few other smart cookies seem to have stumbled on? Mission in Chippendale is a bar-come-restaurant that shares its cool space with an airy, contemporary art gallery upstairs. Early on a Saturday evening the place is quiet and soothing; a nice place to sit and have a few cold constitutionals. A few hours later it’s packed solid and buzzing.
Several cinzanos on ice later, I realised that perhaps it was time to drink responsibly and consider some food because my once sleek fringe had turned into a curly swamp-rat and I may have knocked over a glass. Or two. In my defence, it was a very hot day and the nice barman kept noticing that my glass was empty and continuously offered to get me another. Who am I to say no?
The menu is good: in the realms of contemporary Australian with a strong Italian vibe. Northern as opposed to southern – which makes it light and flavoursome in contrast with the pasta-laden carbo-max of the south. The food is satisfying, pleasing and seriously, the caramelised orange and almond tart with mascarpone is a knockout, while the clever whitebait fritters with garlicky aioli are very more-ish. Actually, I could go on because there are many, many highlights at Mission. I will say though, they do an excellent bowl of fat chips. Not that I ordered them of course. My fellow diner did, and I stole some of his, thus they contained zero calories. FTW!
Sitting protected in that little white cocoon from the heat outside, I noticed what a fascinating part of the world Mission resides in. The building itself is a converted church that has been restored to ensure that much of it is still original. The bar is made of wine corks, from bottles the proprietor has opened and drunk over several years (one hopes) that have been lashed to charred wooden beams rescued from the scarred remains of a fire which almost saw the entire building flattened.
Across the lane is another beautifully converted building that contains the Silk Corp of Australia. I imagine they sell, well, silk. But the site has that look of a seedy past, complete with dirty workmen and red-lit doorways. One can only imagine of course because now it’s all architecturally restored and worth a mere seven figures. Within metres there are several more galleries and artist-run cooperatives, including the intriguing White Rabbit gallery a few doors down.
What a charming part of Sydney! Tucked away behind Wattle Street, you’d never know there’s a fledgling art & food enclave just waiting to be discovered. Sadly Mission is closed on Sundays but they do serve the requisite Sydney brunch late on Saturday mornings and I’m glad to say they go beyond the usual scrambled eggs on toast. Think parmesan polenta with gorgonzola & slow roasted tomatoes or baked eggs with chorizo sausage & ras el hanout. Guess what I’ll be doing next Saturday?
I’ve been back here several times and I’ll be back plenty more. It’s a little secret that I’m totally crushing on right now. I know, I know. I should keep it to myself but I just can’t help it. I like to share! How lucky are you?
Mission is at 3 Little Queen Street Chippendale. They are open until 10pm from Tuesday through Saturday.
words: Kristen Hodges
photos: Matt Hodges