ClerkenwellThe Apple Tree is down the slope of Mount Pleasant from Rosebery Avenue and is a bustling Greene King pub with high ceilings - a mix of old and new. IPA and a guest from Bath Ales were on.
The Crosse Keys, Gracechurch Street (JD Wetherspoon) is no longer open on Sundays - there are very few pubs hereabouts which are, which is odd as there are now many weekend visitors all year round. Sandwich & coffee shops have cottoned on this so why haven't pubs?
The small Red Car pubco is thriving, with the superb old-fashioned Bell in Bush Lane (just east of Cannon Street station, 11-10, closed weekends), the Castle in Holborn (below) and the Swan in Ship Tavern Passage, east off Gracechurch Street (11-10, closed weekends). I've never been able to get into the latter - it's always been too busy. It's one of the near-legendary pubs with what the media calls a 24 hour drinking licence - which of course means nothing of the sort.
Borough & BanksideAround the edge of the wonderful Borough Market, in Stoney Street, are the Wheatsheaf (another Red Car pub, open 11-11 every day)  and the Market Porter. These continue to thrive, now joined by the Brew Wharf (with its own brewery) and the Rake.
The Brew Wharf is north-west of the market, off Stoney Street, and is more of a bar-restaurant than a pub.
Along Bankside, the Founders Arms is just west of Tate Modern and is a deservedly successful Youngs pub, open from 11.00.
BlackfriarsThe Cockpit on St Andrews Hill (near the church) is a classic backstreet boozer, open every day (may close early at weekends), with the likes of Adnams and Pedigree.
Fleet StreetHeading westwards up the slope of the valley of the River Fleet from Ludgate Circus, on the south side of the street, one passes the Punch Tavern and the Old Bell. They're worth a visit but frequently busy.
Further on is the Tipperary, an unspoilt, very traditional pub - a proper Irish pub, with all welcome. Open at weekends.
This once-thriving pub area seems to be on a downward spiral of pub -> wine bar/restaurant -> closure, with only a few pubs surviving.
HolbornYe Olde Mitre (Ely Place, off Hatton Garden) is as good as ever, with interesting guest beers, such as various Milds during CAMRA's Mild Month (May). It's the CAMRA East London & City Branch Pub of the Year (again).
The Ship (Gate Street, behind Holborn Tube station) had a beer festival for most of May with e.g. Theakstons Mild (£1.50/h), Paradise and Smiles Original. On a moderately busy Saturday evening it had the Eurovision Song Contest on telly - a change from sport! The decor features the Law and sailing.
Strand & Law CourtsWest of Fleet Street, this area is unusual relative to the pubs further west in that here the pubs can be quite quiet after 8pm weekdays, instead of being invariably packed out. They tend to be shut at weekends though.
Opposite the Royal Courts of Justice is the George, which has been a nothing place for years but is now part of David Bruce's Capital Pubco and much improved. There are comedy nights and a guest ales (e.g. Sharps Doom Bar).
The alley east of the pub leads to the Devereux Arms, a distinctly above-average Punch pub, spacious and welcoming. There are ever-changing guest beers such as Camerons Fireside Ale stout (4.3%), O'Hanlons Yellow Hammer (4.2%) and Highgate Fox's Nob (4.4% £1.47/h).
The next pub along the alley is the Edgar Wallace (Enterprise), which gets packed for footy but otherwise is very civilised mid-evening onwards. It features eight guest beers under the SIBA scheme - always some interesting ones, such as Vale Gravitas, Acorn Darkness and Skinners Heligan Honey.
North of the Courts, in Carey Street, is the superb Seven Stars (closed Sundays): Harveys and Adnams. (Its sister pub is the Bountiful Cow in Eagle Street, just north of High Holborn.) There's also an average JD Wetherspoon, the Knights Templar.
Covent GardenThere's the wonderful old Lamb & Flag in Rose Street, between Garrick Street and Floral Street, and the magnificent Salisbury, at the St Martins Lane/St Martins Court junction, with its etched glass and other classic decor (CAMRA National Inventory), both Charles Wells.
The nearby Marquis of Granby was boarded up for about 18 months but has reopened as the Marquis with minimal changes, though with a reduced range of real ales.
South from the Strand, down Villiers Street, and at the far end of Arches Arcade, is the Ship & Shovell. Now both halves of the pub, on either side of Craven Passage, are used in evenings (rather than just lunchtimes), so it's much easier to get in for the excellent Badger beers. However it seems to be closed on Sundays once again.
Another busy pub is the Nell of Old Drury, in Catherine Street, off Aldwych, with the likes of Adnams and Tanglefoot.
The Cove at the north-west corner of the central market building in the Piazza specialises in Cornish beers but is usually packed.
So overall, despite closures, there is a significantly more diverse real ale scene than five years ago, with guest beers being used to make pubs stand out. Some pubs are resisting having prices well over £3 a pint but that can't go on much longer.
This article was written around May 2008 and prices have edged up since then, with £3 a pint being more common.