Beppe's Special: Cafe classicism on the periphery of Smithfield

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Nice red booth seats, brilliant signage, pretty awnings and a beaten-copper counter surround. The tables are slightly altered but the locals relish this family-run place with its sense of Clerkenwell history and legendarily frosty service.

Old man Beppe's journal is framed on the wall (with a picture of him as a young lad) but the power in the house is Mama with her signature house dish, steak and kidney pie.

There's something absolutely beguiling about the orange, red and blue Beppe's box sign which hangs above the main door on West Smithfield. It's guaranteed to pique the interest and lure you in. Even the door-handle is worth traveling to see.

The cafe's always busy, full of hospital workers from St Bart's opposite. It looks uncomfortably small but inside there are just enough booths to be able to snatch some space.

On a crisp autumn day, looking out onto Smithfield after a walk around the Betjeman haunts at nearby Cloth Fair, Beppe's is quite simply one of the pleasantest places to while away a lunchtime.

Only a few years ago it was surrounded by several other top cafes (Luigi's, Central Market cafe...) now all demolished. The family picture and notebook displays are of major historical interest; a small recollection of the Italian lineage that played a major part in the development of Clerkenwell.

The combination deep-green ceramic and wood-panel exterior is unique in London. One of the waitresses used to work in the much-lamented St Cross St cafe, off Leather Lane.

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