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March 1, 2012

Oh, you’d be interested in finding out what those last 64 visits were, would you? Well why didn’t you just say? Okay, we’ll give you a quick round-up, starting now:

64 Embankment Gardens
Turn right out of Embankment, instead of heading up to the crowds of Charing Cross and the Strand, and you’ll find yourself in a provincial park that wouldn’t seem out of place in a quiet, slightly backward market town. It’s just one of those random bits of green that redeem the city, however degenerate it gets. Nothing special, apart from some austere Victorian statues, but that’s just why we like it. Okay, it does have the unavoidable, looming presence of the 3,500 year old Cleopatra’s Needle, harbinger of suicide, naval disaster and ill-starred colonialism… but that just makes it all the more Victorian, somehow.

63 Hamleys
‘The Finest Toyshop in the World’ is also a five-storey obstacle course for adults, featuring dangers like shrieking babies, loose toddlers tripping you up underfoot,  sneering teens, gawping tourists and parents furious at you for tripping over the toddlers. But in a city curiously devoid of toyshops, it’s still a Mecca for kids and geeks alike. If you don’t stand in awe of the life-size Lego Darth Vader in the basement, you’re a little bit dead inside and you’re not getting any icecream.

62 River Cruise
It’s not something most people who live or work in London end up doing. But it’s well worth spending a tenner or so and jumping aboard a river cruise from the South Bank Centre and seeing London with fresh eyes. Worth it just for the banter of the guides, too, who will always sneak in a cheeky gag or two to confuse the tourists.

61 Oxo Tower
For swagger, you can’t beat a trip in the hushed lift to the top of the Oxo Tower. Their latest configuration boasts trendy tiki drinks in outlandish glasses, but you’d better make sure you hang with the well-heeled South Bank arts crowd and not the braying bankers from across the river.

60 Cubana
Cubana was a Cuban restaurant before Cuban restaurants were cool. Are Cuban restaurants cool? Ach, who cares, it’s a low-lit, noisy, always-busy place across the road from the Old Vic. While service can be distracted, the food and booze is 100% authentic, and there’s always a mild holiday atmosphere.

59 Brick Lane
London’s dullest-named interesting street continues to draw a heady mix of locals, hipsters, Banglatown tourists, organic foodies, thinkers and small-scale entrepreneurs. There’s even a few artists still around, if you look closely. If you haven’t been for a while, it’s worth popping back, because Brick Lane refuses to stop evolving.

58 Brunswick House Cafe
Sitting on the edge of a roundabout in Vauxhall,  Brunswick House looks utterly lost in its concrete surroundings. But inside there’s a fantastic venue that’s half cafe, half reclamation yard, with all manner of vintage signs, statues, curiosities and ancient ads. Even the chairs are for sale.

57 Selfridges Food Hall
Yum, yum, yum.  Mr and Mrs Brown are about to move in here.  But do we prefer the Vanilla Icecream Milkshake pop-tarts or the peanut butter flavour ice cream?   Maybe its the pink champagne truffle samples they keep handing out… [Mrs Brown]

56 Gordons Wine Bar
As London as fuck since 1890, Gordons is the impossibly crowded cellar bar on (or rather under) Villiers Street.  Snatch a seat and you can do some serious drinking – in the sense of working your way through a detailed, quirky but accesible wine list, that is. Or just get pissed in the warm, echoey tunnels, like everyone else.

55 Terroirs
Proper French food that doesn’t mess about, Terroirs is all about top-quality, earthy, real-life meals with a paysan feel. Their charcuterie is a speciality, and the enthusiasm they have for everything on the menu just seems to ooze out.  A world away from anything haute cuisine, but eminently civilised nonetheless.

54 Craft Beer Co.
This bar in in the City’s Leather Lane boasts a ludicrous row of pumps at the bar. This is the place to come for London’s widest sample of artisanal ales, and they take their lager seriously too, even brewing their own. Best of all, it’s still a fully-functioning regular pub that lets you knock back your one-of-a-kind Latvian organic pale ale in peace. Tip: don’t ask for a pint of Heineken.

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