Mission Grill needs a new mission

Don’t let the stark, plain exterior of Mission Grill fool you. It is has a pretty and warm atmosphere, with leather and sunny colors and high ceilings. But it’s exterior also hides something else: It has a relatively expensive menu for a casual-feeling place and not so amazing fare.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. (And no, I have never known what brass tacks have to do with getting down to the nitty gritty of the matter – just deal.)

It was blinding, salty and not worth the cost. But take all that away and it’s not a bad time.

Let’s start with what I’m sure is initially a confusing adjective: blinding.

We arrived for dinner at about 6 p.m. and when the hostess tried to seat us at a table with blazing sun coming through the extremely large windows all along the west side of the restaurant, I asked if we could be moved to a place where I need no indoor sunbrella (is that a word? Well, it should be.) She promptly moved us three tables down to a seat that got the same exact sunlight as the last, which was not only confusing but extremely annoying. Especially since the whole damn restaurant, full of alternative anti-perspiration seats, was pretty much empty.

Their Web site describes the ambience as combining "the warmth and materials of the desert, accenting the light, airy sun-drenched colors of the American Southwest with a decidedly hip twist on the traditional themes.”

I’m glad they brought this “sun-drenched” thing up. Because the sun was ALL I could see for the first 45 minutes of my dinner. And if by their description of “saturated sunset hues” they mean that YOU will be saturated by flaming cancer rays for the duration of your pre-sunset meal, well they are an honest bunch of restaurateurs, let me tell you. There will be many “saturated sunset hues” all over your ass. The last thing you want to be doing is sweating while at a dinner that easily costs two people $100.

Let’s move on to the food. (SEE SLIDESHOW)

Self-described “refined, sophisticated, Southwest-inspired cuisine,” Mission Grill offers a menu of many delectable-sounding things in the Spanish language.

I would like to begin with the good: The complimentary cornbread with mango butter was ridiculously good. Delicious. I loved it. Oh, and it was free.

I began with an appetizer of Carne Asada Taquitos, with red chili, black bean and avocado cilantro lime vinaigrette on the side for $10. Taquitos? Try Suckitos… OK, that may have been a bit immature.

I’ll give you the description that my friend gave at dinner: It was a salty fried wrap full of Steak-Ums. It was a small greasily encased cheesesteak without the cheese (that’s my description). I didn’t even bother finishing it. And that says something. I pretty much finish everything.

I ordered the filet mignon “Oscar,” which is beautifully presented atop a red bliss potato pancake with wild mushroom ragout and with lump crab. Sounds amazing, right? It was alright. It wasn’t bad, I promise. It just was a bit too salty and not as delectable as I thought a $28 filet mignon would be. But the real test was again this: I didn’t finish it. I wasn’t even tempted to.

And evidently this is not a place for anyone who likes fries. Try it out. Try to replace your side of sweet potatoes with sweet potato fries and see what happens. The waitress will say something that will make you feel like a lowlife sweet potato fry-eating bum. It’ll go something like this:

“Could I get sweet potato fries with that instead of sweet potatoes?”

And she will say, “That’s a new one. People don’t usually ask for that.”

Thank you.

But the best part is when you get your dinner and the sweet potato fries arrive smashed and weaved into a weird soggy cake. How’d they think that was an OK move in the kitchen?

The bottom line is that it was just too expensive for the experience and the product. If they had Chili’s prices, I wouldn’t be so harsh. But they didn’t, and so I am.

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