Jerry Waldegrave suggests lunch at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand when Strike asks to meet so he can ask Waldegrave a few questions.
Strike thinks it an “odd place for Waldegrave to want to meet for lunch and his curiosity increased as he approached the imposing stone facade, with its revolving wooden doors, its brass plaques and hanging lantern.”
“Chess motifs decorated the tiled surround of the entrance.”
“Strike felt at home as soon as he set foot inside the lobby. Once an eighteenth-century gentleman’s chess club, Simpson’s spoke to Strike in an old and familiar language, of hierarchy, order and stately decorum.”
“Here were the dark, sludgy clubland colors that men chose … thick marble columns and solid leather armchairs.”
“Beyond the double doors, past the coat-check girl, a restaurant full of dark wood paneling…. Solid wood-backed chairs, snowy tablecloths…. Strike sat down at a table for two beside the wall.”
When Waldegrave arrives, he says to Strike, “See the clock over the doors as you come in here? They say it stopped when the first woman came in here in 1984. Little in-joke. And on the menu, it says ‘bill of fare.’ They wouldn’t use ‘menu,’ you see, because it was French.”
Strike orders the Scottish beef with Yorkshire pudding — he had seen it being “carved from the silver salver on a trolley that circulated the tables.” Here’s what Strike dined on — and there’s (one of the many glasses of) Jerry Waldegrave’s wine.
With the way the tables are positioned closely to one another, it’s easy to see how the drunken Waldegrave’s head “collided with that of a large overdressed woman sitting behind him.” Later on, “he leaned back, ramming the large woman behind him again, who unfortunately was now eating soup.”
We would have loved to have seen the ruckus stirred up by Waldegrave as he became drunker and drunker in this “aged London institution,” shocking those seated around him “among the dark wood panels, the glass chandeliers and the bills of fare, where everything was stolidly British, calm and staid.”
Interested in a stolidly British, calm and staid lunch or dinner? Here’s the full bill of fare for you to peruse. Then you can find Simpson’s-in-the-Strand here on Google Maps: