Obscure locations are all the rage when it comes to Nordic cuisine. One of the top restaurants in Sweden – Fäviken – is so remote that an overnight stay is a near-obligatory part of the experience.
A trip to Mile End might not sound like nearly such an undertaking, but as we meandered from the tube, through a park, along the canal and on to a residential street filled with building work, it didn’t seem like the kind of place you’d expect to find London’s latest modernist restaurant either.
The location’s not the only unusual thing about Ink. Chef Martyn Meid might be dealing in smears, foams and powders, but this Lithuanian chef’s food is cheaper than London’s other modernist menus, with mains costing a reasonable £8.50-£16.
Nominally inspired by Scandinavian cooking, Meid creates artistically presented dishes with nods to seasonality. A sculptural starter of seared scallops served on a subtle peach purée, then scattered with petal-shaped charred baby onion layers, specks of crushed crackling and purple pansies was the belle of the ball with impressive textures and flavours to match its beauty.
A main of salt cod with ‘tomato textures’ was also easy on the eye, but less exciting to eat, with surprisingly little salt left in the cod or in the accompanying potatoes. A more rustic dish of savoury braised lamb with savoy cabbage made for warming winter fodder.
Ink maybe isn’t the kind of place you’d brave mountains and forests for, but if you can manage to negotiate a park and a canal, it’s well worth it.