Mission Bay has long been yearning for a space where you can nurse a bottle of the "only Coco de Mama Grillo in the country" and keep your toes in the sand. From the owners of Seafarers Club, Ostro, Azabu and Ebisu comes Mission Bay Pavilion, a modern bistro located in and around the iconic stone building in Mission Bay reserve. The heritage-listed building was originally built in the 1800s by the Melanesian Mission. The school kids are long gone and the space has been lovingly transformed by Savor Group and Herbst Architects.
Before you even think about walking through the open-air courtyard to get comfortable in the plush dining room, you'll need to, like every other human, find a carpark. Such has always been the dilemma for the waterfront suburb — now even more so with the arrival of the swish new opening. After combing the strip for a solid 30 minutes, we made it inside.
The restaurant was a melting pot of diners on this occasion; a millennial birthday party occupied one of the large booths, barely legal teenagers were necking tall cocktails in the courtyard and a group of 60-somethings squashed in around a leaner while waiting for a table inside. On a clear day, the courtyard is the place to catch some rays, play giant Connect Four between courses and transition seamlessly to your beach towel after a few vinos.
Chef Camillo Bisaccioni can be found at the helm of the kitchen, whipping up pristine solo/sharing plates. Making a decision is by far the hardest thing to do, with every item as mouthwatering on paper as the next. The fish croquettes are an ideal starter — bite-sized, crispy and lifted with creamy citrus aioli ($14); the chicken liver parfait is unlike anything I've ever tasted — arriving with brioche to lather and a knob of ice-cold parmesan gelato ($18); the wagyu bavette is melt-in-your-mouth good — it comes paired with confit mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, mustard mayo and chips ($34). In line with the location, you'll also find an enhanced version of fish and chips — citrus-infused, beer battered, hand-cut spuds, you name it. As far as sides, you can't look past the addictive asparagus mac 'n' cheese — though with the menu changing weekly, you may have to be quick to sample this one.
It'd be rude not to channel your last big holiday by the beach and grab a cocktail. May we suggest two summery concoctions: the Mission Bay Colada — a take on the classic coconut-pineapple-rum beverage served with Havana Club and Sailor Jerry, and the About Thyme — an Aperol aperitif made with house rosé, Champagne, thyme syrup, strawberries and soda. Elsewhere, the wine list is made up of familiar and lesser known delights, including that highly recommended Coco de Mama Grillo from Sicily.
The great thing about Mission Bay Pavilion is that it's open all day from 8am till late so you can plan your visit before or after a swim.