Nouveau British oyster bar in Spitalfields
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Seafood
Address : 8 Lamb St London, Spitalfields, London, E1 6EA, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.thewrightbrothers.co.uk
Opening Times : Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-9pm
Closest Tube : Shoreditch High Street, Aldgate East
There‘s a bit of a dichotomy between the American oyster bar and the British. In the States, the oyster was working man‘s food. With a bounty of bivalves and crustacea crowding out their craggy coasts, you‘d be hard pressed to walk along a working waterfront without coming across a man peddling molluscs from a cart. This, of course, came to pass as oysters became scarce and concomitantly became a delicacy. However, the attitude prevails across the pond, and the populist oyster bar remains an institution.
Here in London, it‘s a bit different, with many of its most ancient oyster vendors requiring guests to adopt a certain dress code and level of decorum. Wright Brothers in Spitalfields rests somewhere in the divide. While it features a very posh finish, its lip may be a bit more relaxed than those in Mayfair, sharing a similar ethos with laidback American joints like San Fran‘s Swan Oyster Depot or NYC‘s Pearl Oyster Bar. Above all, WBS is characterised by an obsession with freshness and quality, which is what led the owners to construct an avant-garde saltwater tank spread across the ground floor and basement which contains over 10,000 shellfish.
The kitchens are run by David Cook, who formerly plied his trade at Moro, Bocca di Lupo and 40 Maltby Street. His prior experience is reflected in menu, where an array of traditional English seafood is peppered with Mediterranean grace notes. During our visit we opted to grab a stool at the handsome, capacious marble topped bar, and kicked off our experience with an expertly mixed dry gin martini before segueing into craft beer. Putting primary matters at hand, we made an excursion to the dining room side of the venue to select a native whole brown crab from the holding tank. Feeling a bit sadistic, we returned to our seats and ordered some more dishes. Menu highlights included the oysters, especially the Fines de Claires, rivalled by bachelor fare such as birchwood-smoked oysters served atop homemade Ritz-esque crackers with a mild, creamy horseradish; deep-fried stuffed olives and star anise whelks.
We were happily surprised when presented with the crab, who we christened Sebastian. He was pre-cracked and almost completely dismantled, but there were plenty of sweet outposts of flesh to work for, and the accoutrements for dressed crab on the side. The freshness of the seafood, alive only minutes before, is unrivalled and will necessitate many revisits. For their Spitalfields opening, Wright Brothers seem to have perfected the nouveau British oyster bar - their obsession has been well spent.