Wright Brothers has everything a good seafood bar needs: fresh catch, fresh ice, sunny service and cool marble counters. The owners are also shellfish merchants and oyster farmers, so the many oysters, crabs, prawns and lobsters on offer are all tip-top. This is their third London restaurant, and in my estimation, the best of them so far. The best, because it’s more tucked away than the busy barrel of eels that is their Borough pied-à-terre, and it’s neater and more succinct than their sprawling Soho premises.
Oysters are one of the few foods we share with our early human ancestors, and their salty, metallic aroma and taste remain primordial. Moving forward many millennia, the deep fryer is used here to good effect on baby squid, sand eels, brown shrimp and prawns. A shellfish bisque – made authentically by using the shells – was a suitably rich accompaniment to a relatively pallid crabmeat-filled omelette.
Old Spitalfields Market is crammed to the gunnels with dreary, formula chain restaurants, but Wright Brothers is not one of them. It has vitality, helped along by a spiffing drinks list: good wines by the glass, good beers by the bottle. High stools at the bar counter encourage you to chat with your neighbour, and the staff are engaging and lovely. There are some formulas best not tampered with, and the classic seafood bar is one of them.