With a 75-year legacy behind it, Delhi's first Western-style café is still winning hearts
In Delhi's bustling Connaught Place stands a poignant structure from the 1930s. United Coffee House (UCH) has, over the years, been witness to the city's changing landscape and food culture. Food outlets have come and gone, but this iconic restaurant in the heart of the capital still stands tall and continues to draw patrons of all ages.
The birth of UCH can be traced back to the time when an undivided India had Delhi, Lahore, and Sialkot under the same canopy. It is during these times that Lala Hansraj Kalra, Akash Kalra's grandfather, started UCH, Delhi's first Western-style café, where the city's cognoscenti went to dine and to linger over laughter and conversation and endless cups of Kona coffee.
Speaking to IANS, Akash, who has taken over the family business. says,
It has evolved from a coffee place from decade to decade, and the journey also saw the evolution of the crowd who now comes to make and revisit memories, rather than just having food. The place has gained popularity and in the 75 years of this institution, the menu got inspired by world cuisine. The menu evolved, imbibing the signatures and highlights of every passing era. From Mughlai cuisine, Northwest frontier, Punjabi and Kayastha dishes, British club food classics to the likes of European and French food palette, the outlet saw an amalgamation of the heart and soul of popular world cuisines.
According to a travel blog, What's Up Life, it is said that this is the restaurant where politicians, government officials, and freedom fighters used to meet to make plans for World War II as well as the Independence of India.
It now serves up as many as 600 items of world cuisine and offers diners an all-day experience. Some of the popular dishes served at the restaurant are tomato fish, coq au vin, chicken a la Kiev, and Nargis ke kofte.
This place invited people from different walks of life to exchange their ideas. The time of opening was not a natural choice of openings as 1942 was the time when a lot of intellectuals wanted to come and sit and exchange ideas. Slowly, Indians were getting educated and they were coming out to have a more democratic environment. It became famous for people to sit around and enjoy their time, so our identity became unique, Akash adds.
With beautiful floral designs on the walls, huge Venetian chandeliers hanging from the roof, a vintage-looking bar, and soft music playing in the background, this place will warm your heart with its old-world charm.