Thursday, 30 January 2014

David Cook at Wright Brothers, Old Spitalfields Market E1

I've written in appreciation of the cooking talents of David Cook several times so I was really pleased to see him installed in the kitchen of the new Wright Brothers restaurant in Spitalfields. Having enjoyed his cooking at Moro, Bocca di Lupo and 40 Maltby Street, and spent a convivial evening cooking with him at Leila's, he is without doubt one of my favourite chefs.

Until now I only thought of Wright Brothers as a place for a good plate of oysters and a glass of porter hard by Borough Market.  Their new Spitalfields opening, on the run-up to Christmas, has them stepping up not one but several gears.  I've eaten there more than once, as is my rule, so it's time to give you the lowdown.

Smoked cod's roe and fennel

Located on the East side of Old Spitalfields Market, it sits squarely between Bishopsgate in The City and Tower Hamlets' Brick Lane.  As you'd expect from Wright Brothers, oysters and mussels are excellent.  Seawater tanks in the main restaurant and continuously refreshed holding tanks in the basement keep the crabs, lobsters and bivalves in peak condition.  You can sit at the beautiful deep Carrara marble bar and order half a dozen oysters, a plate of Fruits de Mer, a whole crab or half a lobster at any time of day but it's well worth seeing what the kitchen can produce.  The cooked menu changes in line with the catch.  Dishes I've enjoyed on my visits include a creamy Smoked cod's roe perked up with a seasoning of paprika served with sliced fennel and flatbread;  Salmon pastrami with lemon & rye; deep flavoured Crab croquettes; Fresh anchovies, butterflied, crumbed and fried served with tartar sauce; and Scallops on the shell simply served with a salsa verde.

Whole sea bass baked in salt

On one visit a whole sea bass was baked in salt and served up in juicy fillets dressed with good olive oil and lemon which makes you wonder why you'd ever want it any other way.  Smaller salt-baked sea bream were on offer on another visit.

Fillet of salt-baked sea bass

The salt-baked fish is always going to be hard to resist but there is one dish I think I'll return for again and again - a pillowy omelette of crab served with a jug of heavenly shellfish bisque. If you get to puddings, there might be a lemon granita with chantilly cream or a chocolate, caramel and cream pot.  To drink there are craft ales, ciders , wines, sherries and cocktails.

Crab omelette with shellfish bisque

This is one of those rare places where eating on your own would be a pleasure.  The staff are as friendly as you want them to be and that bar is exceptionally inviting.  It's difficult to say what you can expect to spend here as the market price for fish fluctuates but looking out my bills I'd say £35-40 a head including a couple of drinks and service.  What I can say with certainty is, with David Cook in the kitchen, you will eat well.

Update 2015: David Cook is no longer in the kitchen here.

Wright Brothers
8/9 Lamb Street
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6EA