Call us easy to please but it’s hard not to be won over by any restaurant that has Madagascan pepper as a de rigueur table spice. This wild breed has a more aromatic bouquet than standard black corns, and brings a melange of flavours to any variety of dishes. Which is to say that from the off we were impressed by the Wright Brothers’ latest offering. With branches already in Soho, Borough and as far afield as Helford Village in Cornwall – where they also have an oyster farm and fishery, the Spitalfields location is a continuation of their "sea-to-plate" ethos, which has them source the finest fishes and crustaceans from British waters and beyond.
Befitting their City-to-Spitalfields Market location on Lamb Street, the décor At Wright Brothers makes fair use of the old London-brick warehouse setting, while also adding slick, upscale accoutrements. A giant tank, home to lobsters soon to meet their fate, makes for a germane display.
"The Spitalfields location is a continuation of the Wright Brothers ‘sea-to-plate’ ethos"
To start: the oysters. The ones we had hailed from Cornwall, Northumberland, Louth and Oléron, France – and despite rooting for the UK varieties, the Gallic ones came out on top, their meatiness great on their own, or with classic accompaniments such as sherry vinegar or lemon juice, and, yes, Madagascan pepper. The menu is primarily sharing plates – though of the large-portion variety. Char-grilled squid with parsley, garlic and lemon was smoky and tender, and the shellfish and saffron rice was paella reimagined, with all of this Spanish dish’s comfort-food goodness, and a touch of sophistication thrown in. A classic Italian dish, white beans and escarole, was an unexpected find, but worked well as a hearty side.
There is a long history of seafood hawking in the East End – whether at lunch counters, kiosks or pubs – where sellers would bring round late-night vinegary cups of winkles to be enjoyed by drunken patrons. And while there’s no jellied eel on the Wright Brothers roster (at least not when we were there), you will indeed find humble varieties of winkles, whelks and razor clams on their cold and hot menus; it’s not all oysters, Canadian lobster and seafood platters. Such variety is a good fit for the Wright Brothers’ new neighbourhood.
The Wright Brothers, 8-9 Lamb Street, Old Spitalfields Market, London, E1 6EA.