I have just broken the first rule of an eat-right-and-look-hot food plan my friend Foram wrote for me. I started my day with a glass of champagne.
The Wright Brothers started with an oyster farm in Cornwall and now supply fish to restaurants across the UK. I first heard of them when I found myself slurping delicious oysters at their Oyster & Porter House in Borough market one sultry Saturday a few years ago.
Their new Wright Brothers Soho evokes the atmosphere of a Dickensian bar. Planned over three floors the restaurant has a cosy combination of banquettes and high tables. I asked to sit at the bar around their open kitchen in the lower-ground floor. This is a basement like none I’ve seen. Massive windows allow ample light to stream onto the two open kitchens, and also offer passers-by cheeky views into the restaurant. High tables are lit with candles on old fashioned candle sticks and the white walls are decorated with black and white photographs and blackboards with daily specials.
I love being the single diner at a bar counter. Its like being a fly on the kitchen wall – close enough to hear the chefs talk. And I do exactly that as I order my glass of Billecarte-Salmon (£9). The quiet Russian, loud Indian and flirty Frenchman spent a good part of lunch service deciphering accents for each other. They also did lovely things like walk ten feet across the kitchen to slice a lemon right in front of me.
I began with what I came for – a platter of Duchy natives, Colchester, Maldon and Spéciale de claire oysters (£15). This is very much a restaurant that lets you be. I wasn’t rushed through my oysters; the chefs didn’t mind my staring as they sent out one fish after another; and fashionable Soho diners smiled back from their tables laden with Cornish crab, crispy squid and Monocle bags.
The rest of my meal included a fantastic white bait with tartare sauce (£8.50) paired with a glass of Sancerre (£9.50), and a disappointing hazelnut chocolate pot (£5.50). I am glad I stopped by the washroom on my way out… love this brand of TP!
I first tasted oysters at a stunning restaurant on Hong Kong’s Peak. I was with someone very special and trusted him with my heart and palate. Things started to go wrong a little after that trip and never got right again. Now, many years later from that night, I can finally eat an oyster without being transported to that night. I still haven’t been able to go back to Hong Kong though.
Call someone you trust and try something new today. It is always, eventually, worth it.