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Review: Sylvan Post, Forest Hill
THE idea of hanging round in an old post office might not sound exciting but - take it from me - dunking warm baguette into melted camembert whilst ensconced in the converted 1960s building is as close to heaven as I get on a rainy Thursday afternoon.
Apparently there has been lots of scaffolding outside the Sylvan Post which has until recently hidden this gem from view.
It is set slightly far back on Dartmouth Road near the bijou shops and cafes, a few minutes from Forest Hill station and even has mail boxes outside.
It had been going for exactly a year when I stumbled in (28 Feb), cold and tired and in need of a pick-me-up. And what a pick-me-up it was.
The inside is sprawling with a large main space featuring tables and oh-so-comfortable booths as well as a smaller annex complete with armchairs.
There are even converted safes which act as cosy little side rooms, perfect for dates.
The decor retains a slightly 60s vibe and although it wouldn’t look out of place in Shoreditch, it’s both spacious and welcoming (so quite a lot nicer than Shoreditch). As one of my companions said: “It’s the kind of place you can get comfortable.”
Every eventuality has been covered. There is a football table, several board games including scrabble, book shelves including books on Ancient Rome and cookery and they are buying a coffee machine to compete for the yummy mummy crowd.
They have a range of real ales which change regularly from a range of up-and-coming breweries such as Tiny Rebel with prices at around £3.70.
I had a large glass of Spanish red for £5.20 and one of my companions had a Merlot for £4.95, both were full-bodied and very good.
My other companion enjoyed her filter coffee and for tea fans there is a range of Teapigs available.
The food menu is not huge but is good value. We shared a trio of side dishes: melted camembert with soft baguette and green apple chutney (£5) with chestnut mushroom risotto balls (£5.50) and chips with aioli (£2.50).
The main dishes came in at around the £9 mark but the sides filled us up so we were more than happy. Our dishes were excellent and polished off in about five minutes.
The chips achieved that perfect combination of being both succulent and crispy.
Any pub which has baked camembert as well as cheese fondue on its menu is a friend for a life where I’m concerned.
The staff were also incredibly welcoming. We were charmed by the nice young man who served us: he came over to our table straight away to serve us, brought us tap water without us having to ask and made us feel at home.
He told me they were having a party the next day to celebrate the first birthday of the pub and advised arriving early for the Sunday roasts because they sell out.
All in all, it was a perfect afternoon. I rolled out of the pub full of wine, cheese, risotto and chips, and contented with the world once more.
Sylvan Post, 24-28 Dartmouth Road SE23 3XU
DECOR * * * * * (Shoreditch cool meets 1940’s granny’s bungalow cosy)
DRINK * * * * (Good range of real ales and wine)
PRICE *** (Not cheap but then it’s not an average boozer)
ATMOSPHERE * * * * * (I would happily live here)
STAFF * * * * * (Friendly and helpful)