When I first visited Ink in Camden Market back in 2016, I absolutely loved it. Back then, they were called Ink Squid Bar and its menu only served squid at the time. Today, it still stands at the same spot in Camden Market, but they’ve renamed itself Ink Fish Bar and expanded its offerings a little bit more than just squid. Having really enjoyed it the first time around, I was excited to return after 6 years to see if they are still up to par. A lot has changed then, but I was hoping to seek a familiar flavour that I really enjoyed back then.
Ink Fish Bar: Sustainable Seafood & Pastel Sauces
Ink started its journey with KERB with the idea of bringing a contemporary touch to traditional British seafood accompanied by bold eyepopping colours. What initially attracted me about Ink Fish Bar all those years ago was no doubt those pretty pastel-coloured mayo. Sadly these pretty pastel mayos are now history, but they’ve retained their theme of vibrant colours by introducing their unique pink beetroot tartare sauce.
As for the food, they have a relatively limited menu, focusing on just squid and fish. Ink Fish Bar prides itself as a sustainable seafood business and sources its seafood daily from Billingsgate Market, who’s known to be one of the top seafood suppliers.
The Food: What We Ordered
Date of visit: May 2022 & September 2016
As mentioned, Ink Fish Bar’s menu features a contemporary take on British classics namely fish & chips, but also the likes of calamari & chips and squid sarnie. They do not use any alcoholic batter for any of their fried seafood items and are, therefore, halal.
Mixed Box (£13)
As Ink Fish Bar does only fish and squid, the best way to sample both is to order their Mixed Box! The mixed box is essentially British fish & chips plus some crispy fried squid rings, served with a lemon wedge and a side of ketchup. I think they missed a side of their signature pink tartare sauce in the box as I later spotted from other people’s pictures all having them in their boxes.
Anyhow, the quality of the fish was decent and was thick in size. It certainly has the ingredients to make an outstanding plate of British fish & chips, however, lacked seasoning in the batter. Personally, I find it a little stingy to only serve a grand total of three squid rings for the mixed box. They have certainly changed up how they cook the squid compared to my very first visit back in 2016. Instead of a robust Sichuanese take (more on that below), they are now just regular battered squid rings which, unfortunately, I find rather lacklustre and underseasoned. Though on a positive note, the triple-cooked chips were delightful!
* Salt & Sichuanese Pepper Squid (£6)
Now, let’s backtrack to 2016 when I first tried the then-named Ink Squid Bar. These Salt & Sichuanese Pepper Squid were an absolutely delectable treat. What really stole my heart then was how close to home it tasted. Its aroma was absolutely alluring, laced with hints of sesame oil from their soy & sesame dressing. The seasoning was spot on – it was robust to taste, with tingling spices to tease the palate. The addition of sliced red chillies, spring onions and parsley make the perfect garnish to make the flavours pop.
I went with a regular portion, which only came with one mayo of your choice. That vibrant orange-coloured dollop of mayo on the side was the smoked chilli mayo. It featured a subtle hint of chilli and was a nice complement to the squid. Other mayo flavours include wild garlic and miso, and you can have all three if you order the sharing portion at £10.
What meant to be an exciting return to an old favourite turned out to be an underwhelming experience. It was a shame really. This is not to say it’s bad but it just seemed to have missed that drawing spark in the food and flavours. If you’re looking for a halal fish & chips spot in Camden, Ink Fish Bar is certainly an option but I wouldn’t recommend getting out of the way to make a visit.
Nearest station: Camden Town