Ink Bethnal Green: where beautifully plated food play hit or miss

I’ve heard interesting stories about Ink, a Nordic restaurant in Bethnal Green headed by Chef Martyn Meid, and have admired the beautifully plated dishes on their Instagram feed long enough to fancy a visit. So when our friends at Zomato treated us to some vouchers to use there, I was ecstatic.
Tricky as it is to get to, I can imagine ROI for its chosen location peaking during Summer when the weather is conducive to al fresco dining and you can actually see the canal. 
Ink opened last Spring which makes me think the minimalistic theme is deliberate. The space is devoid of clutter; no artwork on the walls, no tablescape, no lousy lighting gimmicks. This almost Zen-like ambience was eerily refreshing and seeing it transcend in the menu was a good thing. Surely the chefs are focused here. 
The short and sweet menu, no fancy names, it is what it is

I could not fault the scallops as they were cooked perfectly. Nested in some peach puree and burnt onion skin, the natural sweetness rose on the plate and seriously tickled my palate. The classic touch of crackling crumbs added a pleasant texture which made me think of summer despite the weather outside.

The cured venison was rather interesting. The meat was not overpoweringly salty and had a good chew. Paired with beetroot cooked three ways, it was Autumn on a plate. Bits of purslane added an oomph to the earthiness of this dish.

A went for the classic pork belly. Slightly disappointed with the lack of crackling (how can you serve pork belly without crackling?!) but the meat itself was super tender. The jus was great and the mash was so creamy, I had to stop myself from taking so much on A’s plate.

We shared a side of roasted veggies. Which were okay.

I couldn’t wait to tuck into my duck breast with vanilla and beetroot textures and spiced couscous. It looked so beautiful I wanted to marry it straight away. When I examined it closely, though the duck looked slightly over than how I would’ve wanted it. It was indeed chewy in parts, but mostly okay.

The dish was quite dry and I reckon it needed some sort of sauce to tie it all together. The beetroot didn’t do much for me, which was strange because I had lots of it for starters. The one thing I absolutely enjoyed about this dish though, was that spiced couscous. The marinade was awesome and I finished every single grain.

The chef served us dessert for free which was apparently his take on eton mess. A, an eton mess expert herself, laughed at the bareness of it. “Where’s the fruit?!” Sorry, babe. Dessert ain’t got no gimmick too. And I actually appreciate it. The merengue was nice and not too sweet and the cream was thick and had a nice tart punch to it.

It was quite cold in the restaurant so we asked if they could turn the heat up. Unforch, they were still trying to rectify the heating issue so they couldn’t do anything… so they gave us complimentary vodka shots to keep warm instead. Cocktails, wine, prosecco and vodka shots later, we warmed up to the idea of drinking more than we should’ve. We ended up paying as much as the vouchers we were given, mainly due to alcohol intake.

Overall, Ink is… interesting. Our choice of dishes for the night may not have gotten top marks but the chef is young, experimental and artistic which makes me think there’s a lot of potential here. I would revisit, but perhaps I’d wait til the Summer.

44 Palmers Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 | +44 (0)20 3095 7304

Average spend pp: £60pp (three courses with wine)
View their menu on Zomato
Ink on Urbanspoon

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  1. 24th December 2014 / 11:41 am

    Interesting that you had such a mixed experience. The plating is certainly gorgeous…but I'm not sure how much it's worth the trek!
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

    • 24th December 2014 / 10:50 pm

      The outdoor dining area by the canal would be great in the Summer but you're right, it's such an awkward choice of location and there are quite a number of decent alternatives! x