wright brothers soho
I’ve long been a fan of the buzzy Wright Brothers in Borough Market so was elated that they decided to expand with a new branch in Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street in Soho. We arrived at the split-level restaurant just after 1pm on the third day of opening to find it completely empty. Granted it was a Sunday (and a rainy one at that), but with only one other party of two turning up the entire time we were there, one does wonder how their hidden location will affect business in the long run.
With no other customers to attend to our orders were quickly taken and we contently sat back, watching the guys get to work shucking oysters from our perch at the bar. The head chef kindly slipped us a couple of complimentary langoustines to snack on while we waited – delectable soft fleshy morsels, velvety on the tongue and sweet on the palate.
We ordered every oyster variation they had on the menu (five in all), plus a half dozen of the Kumamotos off the specials board. I was keen to try the latter as I’ve only ever had them stateside and wanted to see how these, bred locally, compared. Larger than their Californian counterparts; these delicate numbers were minerally with a pure clean taste reminiscent of crisp cucumbers. Definitely my favourites, along with the Maldons (briny, creamy and full-flavoured with a metallic twang on the finish) and the small plump Carlingfords (a perfect balance of creamy, sweet and mineral with a long finish).
The Duchy Natives were also enjoyable, with a sweet clam-like taste, albeit a little one dimensional with a short finish. I wasn’t as fond of the Colchesters (briny and minerally with a flint/slate finish) but they were still nice and it was the creamy Spéciales de Claire with their distinctively muddy finish that were my least preferred of the bunch.
On a warmer day I would’ve stuck to their extensive selection of oysters and cold seafood, but it was wet and dreary so we looked to the limited hot staples and a handful of daily specials (mostly grilled fish) for our mains. A steaming hot bowl of fish soup served with traditional condiments of garlicky rouille, grated gruyere and wafer-thin croutons, was deep, rich and gutsy.
The deep-fried whitebait were fresh, meaty and well-sourced, with a light crisp batter. They were however a touch over-seasoned which I remedied by dousing them in tartare sauce. We could have (and as it turns out, should have) stopped there, but not used to showing restraint we went on to order a Fish Pie to share.
I dug into the mash expecting flaky moist fish in a luxurious white sauce but instead found dry pale hunks of salmon and smoked haddock with no lubrication to speak of. It took several large gulps of white Rioja (a 2007 Plácet from from Bodegas Palacios Remondo – mineral to start, then spicy, ending with pleasant fruity notes of melons and grapefruits), to get any of it down.
Disastrous fish pie aside, the oysters were fantastic and I really liked the vibe of the basement dining area with it’s lively open kitchen and spacious oyster bar. Service-wise, the chefs were great – efficient, chatty and jovial, offering us interesting tidbits of information on the crustacea we were eating. Our waitress however was attentive to a fault, she kept pottering about interrupting our every mouthful – changing cutlery, removing plates, pouring wine, adjusting napkins and explaining EVERYTHING. She was only being zealous of course but it was deeply annoying. A small quibble really, and we’ll be back for more oysters soon enough.
Wright Brothers Soho
13 Kingly Street,
G7-G8 Kingly Court
London W1B 5PW
t. 020 7434 3611