Indian Coffee House (circa 1957) expresses its extraordinarily romantic atmosphere in its run down furniture. The café is a tribute to the dignity of the old times when there were no take-away McMaharaja burgers, no self-service counters and no stewards in baseball caps.
Here is the evocation of an extinct elegance. Tea is served in a kettle, toast is accompanied with knife and fork, and the waiters are turbaned (the cloth is starched). The establishment is set on the second-floor of Mohan Singh Place, a dreary shopping complex, next to PVR Rivoli in Connaught Place.
The cafe’s principal hall is shabby and beautiful. It’s a blend of solitude, conversations, and imaginary Chopin compositions. It calls back to a time when a cup of tea was something to be lingered over, with good company.
The section for ‘Ladies & Families’ is less sophisticated. The terrace is cruder for it looks out upon the vulgarity of Connaught Place’s incoherent skyline. But the view only sharpens the relief one feels on entering this place. Despite its soggy toasts and watery tea, the Coffee House is more civilised than the rest of the city.
You go nostalgic for an idealised age of intellectual life when tempers flared only on the economic theories of Keynes.
Mohan Singh Place, near Hanuman Mandir, Baba Kharak Singh Marg
9am to 9pm
Station Rajiv Chowk.