Monday, January 12, 2009

Wright Brothers Oysters

Not too far from Borough Market, the incredible food market on the south side of London Bridge, lies a fantastic oyster restaurant, Wright Bros. There I was to be found last July, watching the life of the market from Stoney Street, waiting for my brother Ben and his friends to show up for our dinner reservation, when I spotted the above sign. What a great find, I thought. I love this poor little pig, resigned to display his own wares - which look incredible, by the way. Lots of great traditional British foods there.

Ben, Nancy and Christine were all late. Should I forgo oysters for a pease pudding or a Lancashire hot-pot, I thought? Luckily the charcuterie place was closed, so I never had to make that delicious but agonizing decision. I headed inside Wright Bros for a pre-dinner pint and incidentally had a good chat with the bartender about the works of Timothy Findley (once he found out I was Canadian due to spotting the maple leaf temporary tattoo that I had gotten at the Canada Day celebrations at Trafalgar Square).

Sitting at our table sipping my drink, I realized all the food that the waiters were whooshing past with looked absolutely fantastic, so I was quite mollified about the lack of pease pudding. Here's the view from my seat.

Luckily everyone showed up at this point, or I might have been forced to order an appetizer like this one. Alright, this is mine - and Ben's.

It was really tasty - spicy harissa prawns that were massive, and as you can see, fully intact. I've never had to peel so much prawn before, and I thought it would be difficult, but it wasn't too bad, really. Nothing like as difficult as the langoustines I would have the next month in France (more on that in another post). And they were well worth the work.

Nancy and Christine shared these lovely-looking Provencale scallops with basil and tomatoes for a starter.

Here are the Tran sisters, waiting for the oysters to arrive. We'd ordered 24 of them between the four of us, so they were fairly excited.

And the stars of dinner finally arrived! There were four kinds, though I must admit that I only remember that I much preferred the Duchy of Cornwall oysters to the others. They had such a deliciously creamy texture. I hope all of you out there love oysters as much as I do - or, as in Ben's case, more! It was his birthday dinner, after all.

I do wish I knew more about oyster selection - or indeed, could afford to indulge in them more often. Ah well. I shall have to live in the memories. Anthony Bourdain's memoir Kitchen Confidential has a fantastic section on his memories of eating oysters fresh from the sea in France after prising open the shells with a little knife. I'd love to be able to do that. I think I see a field trip in WeDine's future - well, at least to Rodney's Oyster House in Vancouver.

Nancy and Christine had some stuffed crab and some fantastic-looking fish soup for their mains. Ben then had a craving for even more oysters, so he ordered a beef, oyster and ale pie - which came with oysters on the side. Of course. I helped him through it.

Here we are post dinner. A classic photo.

Nancy finished with a cheese plate, and I had some strawberries and cream, which were just light and perfect enough to complete such an exemplary meal.

Oysters, anyone?

Wright Bros Oyster and Porter House
11 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London
0207 403 9554


moyrad said...

Oysters are one of those food people love or hate. I am an oyster lover. There are only a few foods which really taste of the elements and oysters are on of them. I opt to enjoy them au naturale with only their sea water as an accompaniment.

I also approve of Nancy's cheese plate choice.

I'm jealous of your exciting foodventure.

I'm in for a field trip to Rodney's.

Meg said...

I looooove oysters. Yay for summer reminiscing (I have some summer posting left to do myself...). I actually just had oysters on Saturday night, at the Sandbar for Sara's birthday. We had two kinds, but like you I don't remember all of their names - I do know I liked the ones on the left best, as they were more packed with flavour. So delicious, especially with the Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc we had.

My first raw oyster experience wasn't quite like Anthony's French adventure, but it was au naturale enough that I think I was guaranteed to like them – over at my Dad's apartment years ago, in the tiniest kitchen ever, he pulled a couple of large oysters, still in their shells, out of the fridge. He had gathered them from the beach himself, and cracked them open and showed me how to gulp one down. He prefaced it by saying that it tastes like a really good aged cheese. So that was my context, and I loved it. I really don't mind those kind of textures though. Fresh oysters seem rich and delicious to me in the same way as raw tuna or salmon does.

Laura I'm jealous of your adventure too. Wright Brothers looks like a cozy, chill place to hang out. Need to find more like it here!

Anonymous said...

Laura, I am a non oyster lover. How on earth do you swallow them whole?
Ask Meg for a look at the book I gave her at Xmas on the history of British food. There are, I am sure, many things of interest to you. Although not an oyster person I am a lover of London and the UK. So envy you being there this past summer. Have you seen my website
Have you tasted laverbread and cockles? On my website go to the Articles section, scroll down to Wales and click on the article called Welsh Food for photos and more details.