201 Castelnau, London, SW13 9ER, United Kingdom

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Postbox opened in July 2022 in Castelnau, just across from the south side of Hammersmith Bridge. Its name was inspired by owner Leo Noronha’s recollection of a time growing up in Goa, when his mother used to swap recipes by post with friends and family. The dining room has quite small tables and rather dark lighting, requiring me to use my phone torch to read the menu and also accounting for the murky photos. The a la carte menu did have one or two Goan dishes, but was otherwise fairly conventional. The head chef was the owner’s cousin Lorenzo Duaroda, who apparently had worked in India as well as at Dishoom in London. 

There was a very short wine list, with just 13 labels in all, listing the growers but no vintages. The list ranged from £26 to £60, including Rioja Crianza Muriel at £32 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for around £13, Hamelin Petit Chablis at £50 compared to its retail price of £19 and Testulat Carte d’Or champagne at £60 for a wine whose current market price is £34.

Popadoms were a mix of styles, one made with lentil flour, one with rice flour and the other tapioca. These were served with lime flavoured yoghurt and a chutney of onions, shrimps, tomatoes and raw mango, which were unusual and interesting. Sticks of deep fried okra pakora were crisp and well-seasoned, served with a mustard and yoghurt dip (14/20). Also good was aloo chaat, served warm with carefully cooked potatoes, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, mint chutney and gram flour balls, with Pomegranate seeds providing some freshness. This was nicely balanced and very enjoyable (14/20). Chicken wing cafreal is a Goan dish, made here with chicken wings rather than the traditional whole chicken. The meat was enveloped in a sauce of green chilli, coriander, curry leaves, spices and vinegar. The marinade was excellent and the chicken tender (14/20). At this stage the meal was shaping up very well, but there was now a significant misstep with Recheado prawn dish. Reacheado is a Goan spicy masala used for seafood, and would have been fine but for the prawns used, which had a whiff of chlorine and were mushy in texture (10/20).

Vastly better was chilli chicken tikka, with generous chunks of chicken that had been marinaded and cooked in a tandoor, and resulted in mouthfuls of tender, spicy meat (14/20). Also quite good was pork vindaloo, another Goan dish of Portuguese origin. Pork cheek was cooked with vinegar and red chilli, and the result was again tender meat with good flavour. For me a touch more sourness from the vinegar might have been beneficial, but this was a good dish nonetheless (13/20).

An additional prawn dish with rice unfortunately had the same issue as the earlier one. The ricer was fine but the prawns, were small and disappointing, with the whiff of chlorine that suggests low quality farmed prawns (11/20). Makhani dhal was quite good , not quite with as much deep and smoky flavour as the best versions of this classic dish, but very pleasant nonetheless (13/20). Dhakshini roast potato had potatoes that were cooked with spices and retained their texture well (14/20). Wild garlic naan was quite flabby unfortunately; I generally like my naan bread softer in texture than some people, but this was not very good (barely 11/20).   

The owner led the service and was helpful and friendly. The bill came to £53 per person, with beer to drink. I found Postbox to be a somewhat mixed bag. The best dishes, such as the aloo chaat, were genuinely good, but the very ordinary prawn dishes and the bread that dragged the score down. If they would source much better prawns and could improve the bread then this would be a very solid performer.

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