Long before each neighbourhood in #OurCity spawned a dozen eateries doling out go-to grub for diners, all roads led to Connaught Place – the hub of purposeful banter, good coffee, delectable bakes, and incredible dining experiences. Three iconic restaurants from the pre-independence era continue to serve sumptuous fare, unabatedly carrying forward their legacy.
United Coffee House
Conceptualised in 1942 by Hans Raj Kalra and now run by third-generation hotelier Akash Kalra, United Coffee House (UCH) has come a long way from being a coffee shop to a fine dining space. Managing Director Akash Kalra reminisces an era when the establishment, “Was characterised by the visits of politicians, businessmen, artists, poets, and the crème de la crème of Delhi. As the city flourished people from all walks of life settled in and around Connaught Place. They began frequenting UCH, and thus the food evolved to cater to more diverse palates.”
Over the years, UCH, with its Victorian style décor, old world charm, and a commitment to cater to everyone – from the discerning diner to families to tourists – has evolved into an all-day dining menu. “One can walk-in for breakfast or the tea-tray experience (similar to high-tea), early supper, and even late night coffee,” shares Kalra.
Such delicacies as Cheese Balls, Keema Samosa, Mathur Chicken Chaat (named after an ex-chef), Nargis Ke Kofte, and Chicken A’la Kiev are some of the oldest dishes that continue to draw patrons. In an attempt to contemporise and democratise the UCH experience, the United Group has established outposts in Noida and Gurgaon. These outposts, known as UCH Rewind, offer chic and intimate spaces that meld the retro charm of the Connaught Place outlet with the casual ambience that is characteristic of contemporary dining establishments. With their latest effort, the United Group extends the charm of one of Delhi’s fabled eateries beyond Connaught Place.
Drop in at: E-15, Inner Circle, Connaught Place
The timeless classic, The Embassy, set up by two friends P.N. Malhotra and G.K. Ghai is the manifestation of a story that began in 1948. The multi-cuisine restaurant has, since then, withstood the test of time, but for an unfortunate fire that burnt down the premises in August 2014. The decor may have been entirely redone by current, third-generation, owner Kumar Savar Malhotra, but The Embassy retains its characteristic and enduring warmth and food. The recipes remain unchanged as any attempts to modify them, even ever so slightly, have been vehemently opposed by its fiercely loyal patrons. Prepared and served just like in the olden days, the flavourful Dal Meat, the sumptuous Chicken Chaat, and the mighty The Embassy Samosa (first served in 1948) continue to ring in numerous orders. The moreish The Embassy Pudding is prepared using a zealously guarded recipe that is said to be perfected only at the Connaught Place outlet. The restaurant is as loyal to its patrons as they are to it – some tables are promised to returning customers and you won’t have access to them if you are a relatively new or a walk-in customer!
Do not miss their quirky pricing in rupees and paise, rarely seen in this era of plastic money. Loyal patrons may even recognize some of the staff members who continue to serve from the time when they ate here as a toddler (we do!). The Embassy’s second outing in Civil Lines brings a taste of the original restaurant to those residing further from from their flagship restaurant.
Drop in at: 11-D, Connaught Place
Another gem of a restaurant in Connaught Place’s crown, Kwality was established by friends P.L. Lamba and Iqbal Ghai in 1940. While the restaurant started off with milkshakes and ice-creams; the menu now boasts of diverse North Indian and Continental fare. The friends parted ways and P.L. Lamba’s grandsons Divij Lamba and Dhruv Lamba now run the restaurant. The staff let us in on some of the signature dishes that keep pulling back old timers, such as the Tomato Fish, Kwality Channa-Bhatura, Kwality Sukhi Dal (a dry preparation of Urad Dal), and Chicken Escalope Paprika. Other than these, their iconic channa bhatura needs to be on your must-devour list, one fluffy bhatura is big enough to satiate a hungry diner. When paired with the masterfully spiced channa, they make an irresistible combination; one that made it to the supper tables of yesteryear’s film star Nargis and activist Maneka Gandhi too.
Drop in at: 7, Regal Building, Connaught Place
Head over to your favourite one for tea-time treats or a full-blown meal!
Feature Image Courtesy: embassyrestaurant.in