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THE SUMMER'S TOP GASTROPUBS

<strong>THE ALBION, ISLINGTON </strong><br /><strong>10 THORNHILL ROAD, N1 1HW. TEL: 020 7607 7450</strong><br />Arguably the best Sunday lunch spot in north London&rsquo;s trendier parts, this recently relaunched pub is a bastion of the Best of British gastro-glory tradition. Aside from blinding roasts, everything from the bar-snacks (enormous, fresh-made pork scratchings and bone marrow) to the meaty mains and the excellent wines and beers make this a good choice &ndash; and there&rsquo;s a lovely garden too.<br /><br /><strong>THE WELLS, HAMPSTEAD <br />30 WELL WALK, NW3 1BX. TEL: 020 7794 3785</strong><br />Thanks to the proximity of the Heath and the countryside feel of the village itself, Hampstead has summer written all over it. The Wells is a popular jewel of a place, nestled near the Heath&rsquo;s edge, serving grown-up food with a quirky twist, and particularly strong burgers. Cocktails are also a bonus &ndash; there&rsquo;s a small terrace which is the ideal place to sniff fresh air while watching walkers amble to and from the Heath.<br /><br /><strong>THE COACH AND HORSES, CLERKENWELL</strong> <br /><strong>26-28 RAY ST, EC1R 3DJ. TEL: 020 7278 8990</strong><br />The courtyard of this friendly local is a small but perfectly-formed affair with awnings, comfortable furniture and fairy lights &ndash; very inviting. As is the food, which includes dishes such as salt hake croquettes with sauce vierge and British lop loin with snails, turnips, carrots and wild garlic &ndash; or on the bar menu, comforting sausage and mash, ploughmans and herring roes on toast.<br /><br /><strong>THE AVALON, BALHAM <br />16 BALHAM HILL, SW12 9EB. TEL: 020 8675 8613<br /></strong>A welcome recent addition to the South London drinking/dining scene, with a big glossy beer garden and other &ldquo;terraces&rdquo; to boot. Food is good too &ndash; there&rsquo;s a rotisserie and a grill with changing offerings, from mergueuz hot dog to whole seabass with lime salad. An ideal spot in which to catch a tan, eat good food and &ndash; of course &ndash; be merry.<br /><br /><strong>THE THOMAS CUBITT, BELGRAVIA <br />44 ELIZABETH ST, SW1W 9PA. TEL: 020 7730 6060</strong><br />A very jolly place to take in the summer vibe of an evening in this oasis of buzz in staid Belgravia. A table outside sets you bang in the middle of a seen-and-be-seen situation. Steer clear of the exorbitant dining room menu &ndash; the bar menu has plenty of well-executed, affordable gastro fare.