It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if a waiter charms, smiles and talks confidently whilst taking no notes of your order, then that order will be messed up.
Happily, it is also a truth universally acknowledged, that a good seafood platter erases all flaws, and will raise a smile from even the most miserable of diners.
So I’ll skip straight to the point of this piece and say that the One Good Reason to eat at Wright Brothers in Spitalfields, is the top grade selection of raw and cold sea food. Other items are available – in fact fish based plates of all sizes appear rather good, and the act of ordering is an indecisive’s idea of hell – but it’s extremely hard to look beyond the molluscs and crustaceans that make up the seafood platter side of the menu.
Crabs, lobsters, whelks, winkles, cockles, razor clams, langoustines, shrimps, oysters (many oysters) sit staring at you. Literally: there are tanks full of the things on one side of the handsomely decked out restaurant and a bucket load more down in the basement. These things are as fresh as they can be, and choosing between them is a challenge in itself. There are pre-selected platters if you wish to take the easy route.
Three different oysters were each among the best oysters I’ve had for some time. Shucked flawlessly and still swimming in much juice, they were distinctive and delicious. On our platter were oysters from Jersey, Lindisfarne and ‘Frenchman’s creek’ (which is near the Wright Brother’s home point of Helford in Cornwall). We tasted, as we had been promised, hints of cucumber, a meatiness, and a smack of salt respectively.
Langoustines weren’t ordered (we’d asked for grilled carabineros), but were definitely sweet and succulent. A ‘medium’ brown crab was perfect to share between two. To pick and eat at a beast like this is never without effort, but neither is it without reward: the weight of claw meat was almost comparable to that of a lobster, but so much tastier; the brown meat was plentiful and divine. A glass of chilled picpoul was perfect on the side.
We had a couple of plates from the ‘kitchen’ side of the menu. Crab croquettes burst with more of that awesome brown meat. Raw slithers of seabass were almost buttery in their tenderness. The bass came drizzled with a peppery oil and sprinkled with pistachios and sea purslane. Whilst the avoidance of citrus was interesting and enjoyable, the dish needed a sprinkling of salt to bring it to life.
I could have ordered anything and everything on offer from the kitchen, not to mention most items from the pleasingly succinct blackboard of hot specials. Cuttlefish with ink black rice was super tempting. On the table next to us, salt baked sea bass looked perfect. In fact, most things did (deep fried skate wings and mojo sauce, anyone??). Yet as I look back online at all of the choices, I can’t ignore those platters.
A weekday, time restricted lunch was not long nor gluttinous enough. So there’ll be a return for more seafood and a miscellany of other items too – not least the forgotten (but forgiven) carabineros.
Wright Brothers, Spitalfields. 8/9 Lamb Street, E1 6EA – 020 7377 8706
One Good Reason
The seafood platters (cost is variable – from £15.50 for half a dozen oysters to £125 for a deluxe platter)