Wright Brothers Battersea: Review

A brand-spanking-new multi-million-pound development on the banks of the Thames undoubtedly presents a great deal of opportunity, but also a great deal of risk. The temptation must surely have been to fill this flashy new space with moneymaking chains, safe pairs of hands to provide a reliable return per square foot and feed undemanding passing tourists with pizzas and burgers. We note with some sadness how the initial excitement over the fantastically expensive Nova development in Victoria soon turned to disappointment once all the tenants had moved in.

Battersea Power Station have decided not to go down that route, at least not to quite that degree. True, most of the names are familiar to London diners, but are generally respected and shrewd independent operators, including an exciting new Italian from chef Francesco Mazzei, a sister restaurant to ever-popular Soho spot Duck Soup, and – be still our beating hearts – the fifth Wright Brothers seafood restaurant.

We have long been fans of Wright Brothers here at Just Opened. In a town where decent seafood was a rarity until recently – at least at a price that didn’t leave us reeling – they can be relied upon to serve the best, freshest fish and shellfish, cook them well and serve them with charm – it’s a cracking formula.

And it’s a delight to report that where it matters, not much has changed in this very pleasant new space next to the new Battersea Power Station Pier. Decked out like a Parisian bistro, cosy and comfortable, and populated by efficient staff in black and white, it already feels solid and settled, and on a cold and rainy early Thursday evening was heartwarmingly popular.

Of course, it helps that the food is, by and large, all worth ordering. We started – as is almost obligatory – with oysters, three different kinds and absolutely supreme examples all, carefully shucked to lose hardly a drop of the brine inside, and the flesh lean and sharp.

Wild Argentinian prawns were treated similarly well, with soft, moist meat matched with an interesting coriander/chilli dressing. It’s surprising – not to mention depressing – how many restaurants manage to mess up the cooking of prawns, but you can rely on Wright Bros to do things properly.

One of the new things they’re trying in the Battersea location is a Josper charcoal grill – often spotted in steakhouses but rarely employed in the cooking of seafood. Based on the evidence of a whole Brixham plaice we tried, though, we can see no reason why more places shouldn’t be cooking their fish this way – served whole and dressed in a burnt butter and caper sauce, it was a truly lovely thing.

It’s a fool indeed that sits down to dinner at a Wright Brothers and doesn’t order crab in some form or other. Always a highlight of their menu, they come as part of a cold seafood platter or occasionally (based on location) treated to other interesting Asian-influenced preparations. This ‘black pepper Devon cock crab, almonds and basil’ sung with spice and vitality, with huge plump claws full of white meat and generous amounts of earthy brown meat in the shell. Eaten with the superb house fries, it made absolute sense in every way.

In the interests of balance we should point out that not everything was perfect, and that a cheese course, in particular, gave us cause for grievance. There wasn’t anything wrong with the cheeses themselves – they were well-chosen and served at the correct temperature – but someone had seen fit to serve the different slices of cheese stacked up on top of each other, touching, an act so hideous it took all our resolve not to jump screaming into the Thames. So please, Wright Brothers, make sure this doesn’t happen again, otherwise we will begin legal proceedings.

Anyway, a top treacle tart soon settled our nerves, and we pledged to put the whole cheese incident behind us. Because, in the end (cheese horrors aside), there’s a whole lot to love about Wright Brothers Battersea, and not a whole lot (other than cheese service) to complain about. Having honed and polished their product over so many years, they now run something close to a faultless set of seafood restaurants, serving top ingredients well and at eminently reasonable prices, and this latest outpost is just the latest expression of their skill. If you like seafood, you’ll like Wright Brothers Battersea; it really is as simple as that.

Wright Brothers Battersea, 26 Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, SW8 4NN. Full details and opening hours.

JOL was invited to review Wright Brothers Battersea on a complimentary basis. We retain full editorial control.

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