The Singer Tavern (EC1)
After the initial surge of one-pint-after-workers succumb to the lure of that Tesco Finest paella in their fridge, it thins out significantly at 6.30 or so. You're left with a cavernous (and weirdly leafy) space with one of the best tap selections around.
If you're eating: The "bar snacks" section is by far the best – try the Scotch egg with Marmite mayonnaise.
The Porterhouse (WC2)
Improbably huge for a very central pub. Early conversation gold, right there. "Big, isn't it?" "Yeah, real big." And they're off! You're not going to get your quad-hopped Hipster Juice IPAs, but there's a solid selection of Irish-brewed grog.
If you're eating: The Porterhouse Frying Pan: bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, eggs and cheese, all served in the pan.
The Drayton Arms (SW5)
There's a lot of earnest fussiness in South Kensington, but skip past the always-empty furniture boutiques and you'll find this relaxed gem. It's still not exactly one for tie-burning University Rugby Club drinking games, but it's lively enough. And what's this upstairs? A theatre? Jeepers!
If you're eating: Do so on a Wednesday. You can get a burger and a drink for £11.
Electricity Showrooms (N1)
An airy pub, with light flooding in through prominent windows. It's like you're drinking outside, just without the temptation to steal a cigarette and blame your bent-double wheezing at five-a-side on it four months later. Look past the pumps and into the fridge – the can selection is terrific.
If you're eating: Three sliders for £9 is the way to go. Lamb kofte with garlic yoghurt if you just want one.
Harrild & Sons (EC4)
This one's an easy sell to anyone. "Peerless transport links," you'll say, leaning weirdly on estate-agent patter. "It's halfway between Farringdon and Blackfriars!" And if it does get a bit chaotic upstairs, shimmy down to the intimate cocktail area.
If you're eating: Make it braised pork shank with aubergine caponata.
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