Eighty years and still going strong – that is Connaught Place. Even after all these years, CP has retained a character and a legacy that defines its identity. Nowhere is this identity reflected better than in its septuagenarian eateries, which continue to command high footfall. It is their ability to retain a strong core, and yet evolve with dramatically changing times that gives these places a vintage feel…
Wenger’s: Wenger’s was started by a Swiss couple in 1926. For nearly half a century after that the bakery catered to an elite clientele with relatively limited offerings. Recalls Mr. Charanjeet Singh, “when I joined in 1965, even the pineapple cake, which is so common now, was made only on order for Rs.12.”
Despite a surge of bakeries, Wenger’s continues to be one of the best in town. And why not? The taste and freshness of both its classic offering like lemon tart and pineapple cake, along with new additions like fruit trifle cake and black forest cake are patronised by the customers to an extent that the cake and pastry shelves are nearly empty by 7pm.
If you feel like a quick bite, try out Wenger’s Deli, a pleasant joint that has opened up next door.
The Shake Square (Keventers): Sandwiched between Wenger’s and Wenger’s Deli is the more than six-decade-old milk giant – Shake Square (SS), better known by its old name Keventers. Says Rachna, a Keventers regular for over twenty years, “much before the CCD’s and Costa’s of the world, Keventers had the rare combination of health, creativity, taste, and freshness – it made milk desirable…”
Today, the name may have changed, but many visitors still feel that SS has the creamiest shakes possible, especially within the 100-rupee price range. Additionally, the two to three flavors at inception have now increased to over fifteen flavors including Oreo and mocha. These shakes when coupled with Shake Square’s own snack combinations, makes a filling meal for no more than Rs 150.
But the shake is NOT the only contributor to the establishment’s success. It’s the experience of hand-to-hand delivery followed by idle chitchat or simply watching the world go by as you sip on the beverage that adds a special twist to the experience.
United Coffee House (UCH): The doors of UCH are like a time machine trigger. Outside is 2013, and inside is 1940s –1950s. The intricate ceiling, the chandelier, the uniformed staff, the furniture, the lighting – everything comes together to create a dining experience from another era. An era when the likes of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pt. Nehru frequented UCH at least once a week!
Initially conceptualized as a coffee house where people could sit down and talk politics, UCH gradually matured into a full-fledged fine dining restaurant for the top-end gentry of Delhi. This evolution is reflected well in the signature menu which still has dishes from the bygone era. For example, cheese balls and keema samosas of the 1940s and the Ukrainian ‘Chicken Ala Kiev’ of the 1960s.
Says Mr.Kalra, the third generation owner of UCH, “we get all kinds of crowd here, the young, the old, those who proposed to their wives at this very place forty years ago… everyone.”
Kwality: The child stared at the bhatura for a while and then cautiously poked a hole in with her little fingers and withdrew immediately as the steam rushed out from the piping hot bhatura. That is Kwality for you.
This has been one of the landmarks of the Regal building (housing the Regal cinema) for seven decades now. Started by the owners of Kwality ice cream, the establishment became well-known for the chana bhatura and a host of other delights. Over the years, with the changing lifestyles and health regimes of Delhites, Kwality has replaced many items on its menu. However “the one item that has remained absolutely constant on the menu is the chana bhatura. Even the recipe for this delicacy has remained identical since its inception” says Mr. Satya Narayan Kaushal, restaurant manager at Kwality.
Please note: Unlike many other restaurants, the chana and bhaturas are listed separately here. However, even if you tell the waiter that you want “chana bhatura” it will suffice
Nearly 75 food places have opened up in CP in the last 2 years. It would be interesting to observe how our vintage collection evolves over the next 2 years.