The only things stopping me from really going to town were the limitations of my appetite and the size of my wallet.
Eating fresh seafood always reminds me of great holidays abroad. Drinking cold beer and watching the sun go down whilst stuffing fresh crustaceans and cephalopods down my gullet. It’s just a shame that such aquatic delights are invariably in short supply closer to home.
This isn’t the first Wright Brothers’ restaurant in London. There’s one in Soho (Oyster house) and another (Oyster bar) at Borough market. At Spitalfieds, the menu seems more extensive, offering up a variety of small plates, shellfish and main dishes. The location is great too – just a short walk from Liverpool Street station.
Word of warning – if you book online, as we did, you’re likely to be seated at the bar on a high stool – rather than an actual table. If you’d prefer this not to be the case, it’s best to give them a call or make sure you specify your preference.
So we started with an all too familiar argument. “Please can we sit at a table instead?” we asked expectantly. “No, those are reserved,” said the waiter. “But we have a reservation too.” we pleaded, initially to no avail. In the end, we were begrudgingly granted our wish and I assume marked down as ‘trouble makers,’ incurring punishment in the form of a lengthy wait for our order to be taken.
The menu itself is a thing of beauty. There are so many options for those who are partial to a whelk or a winkle. You could actually eat a whole meal from the shellfish side of the menu. The only things stopping me from really going to town were the limitations of my appetite and the size of my wallet. There are Atlantic prawns, carabineros (red shrimp), whelks, winkles, oysters, razor clams, langoustines and more. It’s every seafood lover’s wet dream.
When the food arrived, the awkward start to the evening was easily forgiven. The crab, langoustines and razor clams were all delicious. We took rather a long time extracting all the crab meat and I’m sure the kitchen must’ve wondered what was going on as they waited patiently to send out the hot dishes.
I’ve read some reviews which state that they got to choose their crabs from the tanks in the restaurant but we weren’t given that option. To be honest I didn’t mind this though. I always find it a rather macabre experience.
The ‘Kitchen’ side of the menu mostly comprises of small plates. True to form we went a little over the top and ordered five dishes. There was also a specials board, advertising larger fish plates, but we saved those for next time.
None of the kitchen dishes could be faulted. Octopus, potatoes and paprika really did transport us off to a sunnier, sandier place.
Raw seabass with oil and sea purslane was tasty enough but really needed a squeeze of lemon or pinch of salt to bring it alive.
The crab croquettes were rich with brown meat and full-on with flavour. Sprouting broccoli and a vibrant green sauce was a much needed vegetable side and the crisp potato gallette was a good substitute for chips.
This is the place to come if you are serious about seafood, without it costing the earth. Although if you order everything your heart desires, you can easily rack up a hefty bill.
NB I revisited this restaurant on 1st August and unfortunately the food was not to the same standard. The petit platter (£31) was disappointing as the whelks weren’t particularly nice and the brown shrimp fiddly to peel. I ate a few whole with shells and it but this didn’t really work for me either. The clams and pig cheek lacked flavour, the first time I’ve been able to say that about a clam dish. It needed white wine or sherry in the sauce as it was just bland. There were also a lot of empty shells and unopened clams served in the bowl.
Meal for two with beers and service: £105
Address: 8 Lamb St, London E1 6EA
Tel: 020 7377 8706