Smithfield Cafe, described as a “cupboard-sized cache of warmth and greasy food,” is located on Long Lane near London’s financial district. Strike arranges an early morning meeting here at the beginning of The Silkworm with journalist Dominic Culpepper.
On his way there, Strike walks past “Smithfield Market, monolithic in the winter darkness, a vast rectangular Victorian temple to meat.”
“A stone griffin standing sentinel on the corner of the market building…”
It’s super early in the morning, probably around 6:30, and there aren’t any loos available. So before Strike enters the 24-hour cafe, he makes a “detour down a side alley and in a dark doorway relieved himself of a bladder bulging with weak coffee drunk in the course of a night’s work.” (Our Cormoran can’t make such a claim as an excuse.)
As Strike approaches the cafe, he “could hear voices through the gloom, shouted instructions and the growl and beeps of reversing lorries unloading the carcasses.” There are workers around in “fluorescent jackets.”
Then Strike enters the cafe’s “fat-laden atmosphere of frying eggs and bacon.”
“Two men in fleeces and waterproofs had just vacated a table. Strike maneuvered his bulk into the small space and sank … onto the hard wood and steel chair. Almost before he asked, the Italian owner placed tea in front of him in a tall white mug”
Within five minutes a full English breakfast lay before him on a large oval plate.” (Our Cormoran made quick work of the plate, too.)
“He ate gazing dreamily at the market building opposite. The nearest arched entrance, numbered two, was taking substance as the darkness thinned: a stern stone face, ancient and bearded, stared back at him from over the doorway. Had there ever been a god of carcasses?”
Strike’s seeming preoccupation with Greek and Roman mythology further confirms our suspicion that he was studying the Classics at Oxford before he dropped out.
Ponder this and more over your own English brekkie at Smithfield Cafe. Here it is on Google Maps.