Once upon a time, the people who opened the original Sager + Wilde wine bar had a vision of creating a restaurant specializing in California wines. When I heard about Mission E2 opening, I was really excited. It’s hard to find new and interesting California wines in London, as a lot of the ones that you can find are imported from the bigger wineries, so you don’t get to experience the smaller, better wineries. It’s probably why we end up in Napa every time we’re in California. We’ve even learned our wine allowance (4 L is slightly more than 5 bottles each, so we always bring 10 bottles of California wine back with us…usually several from our favorite winery in Santa Rosa: Paradise Ridge).
Well, recently the restaurant has gone through a bit of a change. There’s a new chef (Seb Myers who used to work at the Chiltern Firehouse), and so the owners decided to rebrand it as Sager + Wilde Restaurant instead of keeping the old name. Maybe Mission has just grown up and decided it no longer needed to rebel against its parent. It still has an amazing selection of California wines, though: They aren’t getting rid of them. In fact, not a whole lot has changed. Except the menu. They now do a small plates selection for lunch, and a four course menu for £30 if you’re heading there for dinner. I’ve tried the regular menu once and the tasting menu twice, and all three times have been blown away by the quality of the food.
If you go for lunch make sure to get the chicken liver and black sesame. I think of it as their signature dish. It’s fantastic. Words can’t describe it, and all three times I’ve had it, I’ve been really excited by it. I can also recommend the beef tartare with jalapeno. Especially if you like things spicy. The beef was amazing and the spice just paired perfectly. I was really excited about the things we tried on the lunch menu, so I knew we had to go back for the tasting menu.
The second time we had the tasting menu (we were a bit drunk the first time, so I’m not sure I can accurately discuss it), we decided to meet our friend Syra for a Christmas catch-up, so I booked us in for a quiet Sunday night. We ordered the four courses (and there was a fifth supplemental cheese course). We started with drinks and had a cherry Negroni. Very nice cocktail. They gave a few snacks to start, including the notorious chicken liver. We also had pickled turnips and some bread. And another delicious snack, but we were so busy chatting, I forgot exactly what it was.
For the first two courses, we decided to share a bottle of white. Of course, we opted for a nice, California white wine (and you can get this one by the glass as well). The first course of scallops with cabbage was really delicious. The scallops were perfect and the cabbage went really well with it. The next course was a roasted Jerusalem artichoke. It was heavenly. I love the taste, and it was roasted perfectly. (Unfortunately, I did experience the after effects of the artichoke later.)
Next, the server came to our table and offered us an extra supplemental course of millet and lobster. This is one of the only courses I remembered from the first time we came, and we jumped at the opportunity. (Apparently they only had a few servings left, so didn’t want to print it on the menu. I think they remember us from our frequent visits before the rebrand!) It was delicious. I don’t usually like porridge-y type things, but this one is a major exception. There’s enough texture, and the lobster was cooked amazingly well. Next, we opted for the lamb. While the fat could have been slightly more rendered, the lamb itself was succulent and delicious. We had switched to a bottle of California Pinot Noir by this point as well, and we were enjoying it very much (and they decant the nice wines here if you care about that sort of thing – my husband definitely does).
Finally, on to dessert! (Well cheese first, and it was a delicious, oozy cheese – just the kind we love!) They decided to bring us an extra course dessert course after the cheese. No complaints there! It was one on the lunch menu consisting of Sake Lees ice cream (I think it’s some sort of yeast from making Champagne, I didn’t quite understand, but my husband seemed to be completely in the know), caramel barley and clementine. The clementine had been pureed into a sauce. The whole thing was outstanding. The amount of orange flavor they produced in that sauce was absolutely amazing. We all kind of preferred it to the regular dessert. The last dessert was pumpkin ice cream. I guess as an American, there’s a special place in my heart for pumpkin, but for the Brits at the table, they were less impressed (but it didn’t stop them from eating the whole thing). We also had a bottle of “Starboard” to go with it (a California style Port – as Port is limited to Portugal, so Starboard it is). We’ve had it before, and it’s always delicious.
The whole meal was amazing. I’ve been a fan of this place since before the rebrand, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back many times after. Four-course for £30 is great value for money, especially when it’s as tasty as it is. Seb Myers clearly is a talented chef, and I’m sure he’ll only bring bigger and better things to Sager + Wilde!
Sager + Wilde Restaurant
Arch 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE