The Wright Brothers, London
The Wright Brothers Spitafields is the latest venture by family-run Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm. Designed by Undercover Architecture it is known for seafood, and they have plenty of it very much alive right in front of you in the large fish tanks which have become a feature of the restaurant.
There are yet more tanks holding up to 8/9000 oysters below deck downstairs. It’s like descending a ship itself then you see a wall of wet glass appear before you with the oyster filter system behind illuminated like a turquoise sea. Dark paint and ocean orientated design elements appear such as a safety ring buoy and ocean inspired graphics for the toilets.
We went on a quieter Monday and sat at the very large and impressive centre piece of the restaurant being the marble bar that sweeps up a long side and round the corner of the brick wall that separates the dining spaces. On the other side from the bar is the table and booth seating and the end of the bar itself tucked at the far end. The wall that separates these spaces still allows sight of the other side though openings and archways.
We would recommend sitting at the bar though as the staff are great and know their stuff and you see the preparation as they talk you through everything there is to know. We tried various foods from a very fresh crab to oysters to scallops. It was delicious, fresh and the experience was fun and informative.
The restaurant features that are key are certainly the fish tanks with many oysters, crabs and lobsters, the menu boards telling you all the kinds of oysters you can choose and the large marble bar. The design is very much influenced by the food offer and has picked up a cosy quality that you can imagine in a local seafood restaurant in a small fishing town somewhere. The bar side of the space features, a beautiful reclaimed parquet flooring that meets the hand crafted green array of tiles that make up the bar. Across from this is some reclaimed timber that looks very much like driftwood that lines the edge of the space with a small ledge and some candle lights.
The other half of the restaurant features dark, thin pieces of timber to comprise a long L shaped banquette for the table seating. This timber is again used in a more private intimate booth seating that features a large metal cast sculpture. It looks like octopus tentacles that are certainly quite impressive and relevant to the theme of the space. The flooring changes from the reclaimed timber to an array of mosaic tiles that repeat a pattern of shapes much like sea shells and reflect overhead lights to almost appear wet. Other features include an array of different lighting from candles to can pendants to bespoke little lights that sit under what looks like a long blackened steel angle suspended above the bar. The spaces also feature elements that take from seafood and the ocean such as thick fishing nets, a large panelled map of the oyster farm in Cornwall, fish shaped ceramics and tiles cut to shell shapes.
Overall we found the restaurant to serve up fantastic food, have great and enthusiastic staff and an array of different materials and features into the design that comprised a comfortable, intriguing space that literally housed a bit of the ocean inside to create a unique sea to plate dining experience.