PERFECT COMFORT: Chicken saltimbocca and cola-marinated barbecue steak tips.
We have to stay on mission and avoid mission creep, so: what is our mission here? In terms of this column, it is to find good eats of any style, at any price range. The mission of this bar and grill, however, is more about beer, with a lot of drafts and the conceit of serving them in their native glasses: Stella Artois ($4.50) in a tulip, Radeberger Pilsner ($4.50) in a tall stein, and Guinness ($4.50) in what turns out to be a Magners cider glass, but is pretty close to that of a classic Guinness pint. (Mission Hill, the locale, is named after the Mission Basilica, but repentance is for later.)
|The Mission Bar & Grill | 724 Huntington Avenue, Boston | Open daily, 11 am–midnight; bar open until 2 am | AE, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | 1.5 hours parking in stop & shop lot | Sidewalk-level access | 617.566.1244|
So this is bar food, and it has its own rules. It’s often salty and peppery to promote drinking, but the Mission Bar doesn’t overdo it. Bar food tends to the familiar. Indeed, some bar food seems so familiar you’d suspect it was all coming pre-packaged from the same supplier. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. At the very least, the chefs add a few twists to spice up what could otherwise be considered run-of-the-mill food.
Beet and arugula salad ($8.99), for example, has bits of both regular and striped Chioggia beets, with goat cheese that’s been breaded and fried into a patty. The Caesar salad ($7) is distinguished mostly by unusually good croutons. But the “steak ‘n’ bleu” salad was a successful platter with strips of flank steak, green beans, a very flavorful blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, and a neat topping of French-fried onions.
Regarding “crispy” fried calamari ($8): the correct adjective is just “crisp,” so some literalist may take this the wrong way — expecting, perhaps, something along the lines of an English potato-chip crisp. But fried squid actually don’t get that crisp, so maybe the literal “crispy” is a better descriptor here. These are hedged with two dips: marinara sauce and a garlic mayonnaise that I liked even better. Strips of pickled red pepper added a bit of heat. Only the crab cakes ($10.99) were disappointing. The three small ones that arrived featured more crumbs than crab, and therefore were a little greasy.
Bars are often judged by their burgers, and the “Mission burger” ($8) is very competitive. The meat is tasty and just charred, pink inside as ordered, and juicy enough even without fine toppings of caramelized onions (75 cents) and sautéed mushrooms (75 cents). I’m not so sure about the bun. It’s soft and full, but with an egg-glazed dome that makes it a little crunchy, especially since ours came toasted. The French fries are terrific, with just a hint of salt and seasoning.