Wright Brothers are synonymous with seafood, what these guys don’t know isn’t worth knowing so when I was invited to a behind-the-scenes peek at their Billingsgate market operation and an opportunity to chat to founders Ben and Robin, I jumped at the chance.
Ben and Robin started Wright Brothers 20 years ago with a passion to spread their love of oysters and seafood. From 2002 to 2022, the business has grown quickly, and they are now the leading seafood supplier in the UK. Starting with wholesale then restaurants and oyster farming, they have devoted the past two decades building a recognised and reliable brand. Alongside their three London restaurants, they supply over 500 restaurants around the UK including Michelin starred chefs.
The set up at Billingsgate is run with military precision. After the catch arrives at midnight, straight off the boats at Brixham, the team are tasked with prepping, packing and getting it out the door all by 6am. During this period they can process up to £100,00 worth of seafood. Their clients include Gordan Ramsey, The Ivy, J Sheekey and Fortnum and Mason. Ben explains that all the fish is cut to suit the customer. Head of Production, Joe Palmer is a fish slicing ninja, responsible for making sure there’s no waste and the fish is accurately cut. There’s also a ‘watchlist’ to ensure everything that leaves the market is of the highest quality. When it comes to sourcing and sustainability, they are constantly reviewing their policy and procedures. The coastal team works with smaller boats that use the most sustainable catch methods, these include pot-caught crab and line-caught wild sea bass and for every lobster sold they donate to the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow.
Naturally they supply their own restaurants so after a couple of hours in Billingsgate we catch a boat down the Thames to the Battersea restaurant. On the boat Robin explains how they had to switch things up during covid and while restaurants were closed they got creative and started going direct to consumers with bespoke fish boxes that are delivered straight to the customers door. It quickly caught on and this side of the business has continued to grow. The brothers (in-law) are always innovating and have recently collaborated with Japanese chef, Yuki Gomi to create a Let’s Roll Sushi kit, which includes all the essentials required to make high quality sushi at home.
Both Ben and Robin are keen to smash the myth that fish is tricky to cook or must be part of an elaborate dish. They want to take the fear out of cooking seafood, Robin tells me that ‘simplicity is key’ and their website is a great source of inspiration and recipes.
At the restaurant the team bring over a selection of oysters to try. I’m slightly indifferent when it comes to oysters, I don’t dislike them but I’m not a big fan, I don’t get the hype. For some reason they always make me feel like I am slurping the sea. Ben encourages me to try the Ostra Regal explaining they are best served with a squeeze of lemon and that throwing it back isn’t the way to do it, instead he recommends chewing it a couple of times. He’s right, it completely changes the taste of this divisive aphrodisiac. The waiter brings across one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve tasted and when he proffers another rock I don’t shy away. If shucking oysters isn’t your thing then the extensive menu at Wright Bros serves a combination of seafood staples like fish pie as well as share plates and simple pan-seared fish. They also have a cracking breakfast menu that includes a fabulous Lobster Benedict.
A visit to a Wright Bros restaurant is a must for seafood lovers, their combined knowledge, passion and 20 years’ experience is what makes them the top of their game.
To book a table at one of their restaurants or for more information on their Let’s Roll Sushi Kit visit thewrightbrothers.co.uk