Wright Brothers, restaurant review: The odds were stacked against this 'seafood mecca' but it's hard to fault

 

The odds are stacked against the Wright Brothers. First of all, their latest restaurant is in Spitalfields Market, which nobody aged 30 or over should ever be seen near. Second, this is a seafood place, and I've just come back from Italy and Cornwall, where I had so much fish that the thought of another crustacean makes me ill. Third, this restaurant is out and proud about its crustacea – which means you have the dubious pleasure of seeing them fighting in huge tanks barely two metres from the seating area. Fourth, this opening is part of a chain (the third of its kind in the capital, following openings in Soho and Borough market), and your correspondent demands higher standards from chains. Fifth, I am in an extremely foul mood, had you not twigged, having just had my latest in a series of contretemps with a fellow journalist.

And after all that… this place is magnificent. I mean, really bloody good. Not because it does anything fancy or unusual, or because it charges £300 for half a sautéed whelk. It is magnificent because it cooks a big range of seafood exceedingly well and sells it at a reasonable price. With 1,400 shellfish visible in those tanks, and another 9,000 live creatures visible in the basement when you visit the loo, for once the PR blurb about a "seafood mecca" is forgivable hyperbole.

There are four selections on the Fish of the Day board, platters that come petit (£24), grand (£54) and deluxe (£128), 10 different types of oyster, lots of shellfish and then a selection of mains from the kitchen, before puddings and cheese.

Five of us have gathered, so the grand platter of shellfish seems like a smart starter – and for the most part, it is. The Channel Island oysters are chewy and sloppy rather than full of gristle; the brown shrimp are small and fresh and can be swallowed whole; the prawns come with a rich mayonnaise; the little whelks look disgusting and worm-like when fetched out of their shells, but taste delicious; and there's a whole heap of crab that, though messy, yields succulent and sweet brown meat from deep within its claws. The only miss are the clams, which have soured slightly and taste plain wrong.

The rest of the mains constitute a large but manageable selection of seafood classics. The greasy option is a plate of fried baby squid, sand eels, brown shrimp and prawns (£11). There's nothing much wrong with this, though if I were to have one small quibble, it's that the batter is so greasy that it dominates whatever it coats, so that just as too much Bisto on your Sunday lunch makes the whole thing taste of gravy, so this plate tastes too much of batter.

Actually, the dish's main shortcoming is that it comes off rather poorly when compared with the other mains. For instance, the monkfish rice with saffron and aioli (£14) is excellent, a warm bed of gloopy yellow rice infused with pungent saffron and cooked to perfection, next to two chops of muscular monkfish and a dollop of creamy, garlic goodness. Well worth the money. As are the palourde clams with white beans, pig cheek and coriander (£11), and the mussels, which come here with garlic, parsley and chilli (£11). You can also get a Canadian lobster, grilled or boiled and served cold: half for £20.50, whole for £41.

The desserts are various and very toothsome. That they can be helped down by a very decent Muscat (£5.70) or something from a good cocktail list helps. The savarin (a kind of rum baba) with Grand Marnier (£9) is a lovely winter warmer, all sweet, saucy and alcoholic; and the bulging prune and Armagnac soufflé (£6.50) and small but sufficient chocolate-and-caramel pot (£6) are hard to fault.

As is the entire place, actually. Even the prices aren't bad, considering what you have to pay for a peanut in London today. I must warn you, though, that throughout your meal you will see huge animals clambering on top of each other, and sometimes engaged in open warfare. The other thing to watch out for is the skinny-jeans brigade who, thinking they're too smart for Hoxton a mile up the road, now monopolise Spitalfields. But that's enough of the hate I turned up full of tonight. For I leave full of joy, and fish. A wondrous turnaround.

8/10

Wright Brothers, 8/9 Lamb Street, Old Spitalfields Market, London E1, tel: 020 7377 8706. £90 for two, with wine

Four more things I've been eating this week

Antoine de Clevecy

Most oenophiles say supermarket champagne is junk. But this stuff, which Sainsbury's recently did at half price, I liked. Very much.

Ginger Nuts

After a few months off, I've come back to this classic biscuit as the premier dunk for a cup of sweet, milky chai.

Choco Weetabix

Winter is the only season during which I eat breakfast. Naturally it needs to be full of fibre – and chocolate. This stuff is ideal.

Pork pies

A total obsession at the moment, especially with honey and mustard. Dickinson & Morris of Melton Mowbray does a corker.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most