Several years ago the writer ate several times at a great little Spanish Tapas Bar located in Old Spitalfields Market. This closed a few years back and the space was taken over by seafood restaurant specialists, The Wright Brothers, who also have extremely well regarded establishments in Borough Market, Soho and South Kensington along with the Ferryboat Inn in Falmouth and operate their own oyster farm, also in Falmouth. Thus I was very much looking forward to reviewing the Spitalfields outlet given that seafood, when fresh, well presented and cooked to perfection is probably my eating-out favourite. Indeed good seafood restaurants are relatively few and far between and finding one which meets one’s best expectations is indeed something of a delight.
I have to say that The Wright Brothers Spitalfields restaurant did indeed come up to my best expectations and my colleague and I enjoyed a most excellent, and rather long drawn-out, Friday lunch. I should add it was not long drawn-out through slow and inattentive service – quite the opposite – but due to good company and a conducive ambience.
About a 15 minute walk from the Barbican you can enter the restaurant from within Spitalfields Market itself, or from Lamb Street which runs along the northern side of the market buildings. The restaurant space boasts a stunning marble oyster bar in its centre, as well as an alfresco dining area on the market terrace.
The marble oyster bar
Head Chef Richard Kirkwood’s seasonal menus feature the finest quality fish, seafood and a selection of oysters from the British Isles, France and of course Frenchman’s Creek oysters from the company’s Cornish oyster farm when in season.
The Market Terrace offers a more relaxed dining experience, where you can soak up the vibrant market atmosphere. The terrace is ideal for large bookings and available for private hire, accommodating parties of up to 30 guests seated for set or sharing-style menus or 40 standing.
If you are as obsessed by oysters as the restaurateurs, or simply wanting to experience your first oyster moment, happy hour is not to be missed every day between 3pm and 6pm when oysters are £1 a pop! There looks to be a great selection of cocktails or wines by the glass with which to wash down the molluscs.
For those in a rush, or on a little more of a budget, there is an Express Menu available at lunch Monday to Friday between 12-3pm.
We started our seafood voyage with Potted Atlantic prawns, lemon and sourdough bread (£8) which I was keen to try to see how it compared with potted brown shrimps, which I really like, and occasionally make myself. A different experience in that rather than being encased in hardened clarified butter these were potted in something more akin to a buttery hollandaise sauce – but absolutely delicious nonetheless. My colleague went for Galician octopus carpaccio with pink fir apple potatoes and a plum tomato and lemon dressing (£9.75) which attracted superlatives – and the comment afterwards was ‘so good I could have licked the plate’.
And so to main courses. I had one of the daily specials – a whole plaice on the bone in a sea urchin sauce – which tasted so fresh it might have swum on to the plate.
My colleague, after initially deciding on just having a second starter, changed her mind on seeing a main course dish delivered to the next table and went for the Bideford hake fillet with fregola, pancetta, peas and mint (£23.75). She reckoned never to have had hake before, but so enjoyed the dish served that she declared it now to be her favourite fish dish, particularly cooked the way she had it there. So two very satisfied customers. We declined dessert, despite an attractive dessert menu, and settled for coffees.
The wine list is not hugely extensive, but has some impressive bottles on it – at a price! We went for wines by the glass. Prosecco (£7.50 a glass) as an aperitif and a Picpoul (£8) and Muscadet sur Lie (£7.50) with the food – both pleasant.
Altogether a very positive experience and for a seafood aficionado well worth the walk from the Barbican. As can be seen from the prices quoted in the article it isn’t a cheap choice, but then decent seafood restaurants in London are seldom inexpensive.
The Wright Brothers Spitalfields is at 8a Lamb Street / Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EA. Tel: 020 7324 7730 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Opening days and hours are: Monday – Saturday 12pm – 10:30pm, Sunday 12pm – 9pm. So also a good weekend eating option.