44-46 Cranbourn St
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An oasis of calm and dignity in Leicester Square
Drinks in London's West End rarely come cheap. Even less so in the environs of Leicester Square, arguably the city's biggest tourist trap and certainly a magnetic draw for boozy, boisterous groups of townies on their 'big night out' in the capital. If I sound like I've taken against Leicester Square, that's because, its smart recent refurbishment notwithstanding, it's a HELLHOLE, of sleazy bars and overpriced cinemas. If you find yourself in the area - perhaps you're waiting for a pre-theatre drink with a friend, or you've found yourself there after a bookshop crawl down Charing Cross Road - there's only one place I'd recommend you spend any time. In fact, I hesitate to do so, because it's such a quiet, reasonably priced refuge that I'm not sure I want any more people going there. But here we go: against my better judgement, I introduce you to the Cork and Bottle. It's a basement level wine bar, and most people walk straight past its frontage (between a ticket agency and a pizza stall) without even noticing it. Down its metal spiral staircase, the cosy bar serves a great list of wines from around £4 a glass (as well as by the carafe and the bottle), and alongside an interesting menu it does a fabulous cheese platter (your choice from an extensive selection). I've told you. Now please don't go and leave the rest of us in peace.
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