- Food & Drink
Wright Bros oysters
If Bellerina could be said to have a super power, it’s her ability to spot a bargain. While the rest of us flounder, mired in Groupons, Twitter deals and Facebook specials for things that you panic buy 5 minutes before you realise you don’t want them, Bellerina is reaping the benefits of sharp eyes and an unerring instinct for turning up stuff that’s actually worth having.
So when she emailed me a toptable link for a Wright Brothers Soho Oyster House certificate that cost £20 and would result in £40 being knocked off the final bill, I clicked harder and faster than a drunken online poker addict betting their house at midnight.
I was excited. Partly because I’d read the word ‘bargain’ and immediately lost my grip on reality as well as my purse strings. But also because we’d eaten a brilliant meal at Wright Bros Soho just after they opened last year. It had been fabulous, featuring the best mayonnaise and potatoes I’d consumed since coming back from Ireland (and measuring up to an Irish potato is no easy task) alongside some slap-in-the-face fresh seafood. The prospect of a bargain dinner there was thrilling enough to shut down my respiratory system for 5 minutes while I lived off the memory of that meal.
We arrived at 7.30pm on a Thursday and were lead to our bar perches by a waitress who spilled over with we’re-all-mates-here bonhomie. Wright Bros Soho is the only restaurant in London where I can stand faux-friends service. They do it convincingly and I find myself wanting to show off my shopping and swap hair removal tips in-between ordering oysters.
And a plate of oysters is how we began our meal: 3 Maldon, 3 Carlingford Lough and 3 Dorset Rock. All 3 types were lovely slurps of the sea, but the Dorset Rocks crept to the top of my crustacean list. Meaty little licks of ozone, they thrummed with sea air.
Bellerina got stuck with a spawning Carlingford Lough, that oozed milkily as she slid her fork underneath its flesh. It was quickly replaced, unluckily with another creamy oyster. Something about Bellerina brings out the latent fertility in seafood.
We also shared a salmon and crab Scotch egg. Accurately described by our waitress as a fishcake with an egg in the middle of it, it was a cricket ball-sized round of sweet fish hiding a silky egg ready to splurge yolk all over the plate. It was grease-free and crunchy – if there’s one thing they know how to do at Wright Bros, it’s deep fry fish.
For my main course I’d opted for fish pie. A thick layer of mashed potato guarded a pool of white sauce and chunks of salmon and smoked haddock. It was incredibly rich and I found it a little hard going, my fork making smaller and smaller incursions into the crust while I tried to wheedle out the fish. I think I’d like the pie better with less potato, but given that I was simultaneously devouring a bowl of boiled potatoes it’s possible I’d out-potatoed myself.
Bellerina ordered braised pork belly with clams and salsa verde. Tender and meltingly lardy, the pork belly was a pleasure to run your cutlery through. The spiky salsa verde cut through the fattiness while the clams were plump little nuggets of sweet saltiness, holding up a mirror to the flavours of the pork.
On the side we’d ordered a bowl of new potatoes, which came buttered and herbed and impossible to resist, and a portion of cauliflower that had been perked up with tarragon and had a vinegar tang that helped ease the calorific flavours of our main dishes.
We washed our meal down with a carafe of refreshing Picpoul de Penet and finished with camomile and mint teas, our potato-filled stomachs unable to contemplate the dessert menu.
Without the bargain certificate our meal would have been £90 without service. With the certificate it was a joyous £50 and on my way out I spotted a board advertising their pre-theatre meal deal. For once, I have may have found a bargain that I’ll want to take advantage of again and again.