17 December 2014
No longer just the home of chicken shops and a boxing ring, Bethnal Green's having a bit of foodie resurgence thanks to places like The Sun Tavern, Penkul & Bucket, and Sager + Wilde's Mission. I hadn't heard of Ink but when Alex at Zomato first told me about it, I knew it was somewhere I had to check out. You see, Bethnal Green was my old stomping ground as I spent three years there for university and back then, good food was thin on the ground.
Describing itself as a contemporary restaurant with a Scandinavian influence, the menu had me clamouring for our Friday night booking. The night itself was slightly less remarkable. It was a little difficult to find and once there, we were the first table of three eating that evening meaning the atmosphere was severely lacking. Not to be deterred, we got to the serious decision of ordering drinks - I chose the Italian prosecco but we were told they'd run out so were served a Spanish cava - still reassuringly bubbly, dry and crisp but a little surprisingly for the beginning of a weekend stint.
Whilst we looked through the menu, a pair of spoons with a bitesize portion of gravlax, pickled cucumbers and squid ink was brought to the table. I wolfed mine down - palatable if a little bland but helpful enough that I decided not to order it as a starter. Instead I went for the cured venison with textures of beetroot - prettily served with lots of colour and cubes but rather stingy on the meat itself, which came hidden in small flakes beneath the vegetable - and enjoyed trying not to splash it on my white dress (unsuccessful). S had the scallop starter with peach, burnt onion and pork crackling which was definitely the better dish out of the two. Plump, well-cooked scallops were perfectly complemented by the crispy onion and crackling and I could have gladly eaten this dish for days.
Onto the mains and my first choice of halibut with pine tree salt, parsnip puree and shrimps (£22) was off the menu so I opted for the 148 hour salted cod with tomato textures, confit potatoes, tomato oil and leek ash. Deliciously salty, the fish was firm and full of flavour and worked well with the roasted, pureed and something-elsed tomatoes. This was a sophisticated plate and definitely worth waiting for. S picked the most melt-in-the-mouth pork belly and potatoes and I was struck with serious food envy.
We shared the salted chocolate mousse and crumb which was definitely a fork-fight moment. However, we had been a little underwhelmed by the portion size compared to the rather expensive prices. We left a little hungry and a little disappointed by the atmosphere, which is a shame as the quality of food was good, the presentation impeccable and I love how independent restaurants are starting to flourish in East London. Worth a visit but perhaps not worth going out of your way for. Three out of five.
You can find the menu and other reviews over at Zomato.
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