While I was growing up, I heard stories about United Coffee House and, how once a month my parents, newly married and settling down in Delhi, went to watch a movie in Plaza, Odeon, Rivoli or Regal in Connaught Place and, post movie walk to either United Coffee House for Cona Coffee and Portuguese Fish or to Nirula’s for Fish Orly. I have a recall of going twice with my parents in late 70s and on my own in mid 80s. Post mid 80s, I have no recall of eating at United Coffee House. This time my daughter had United Coffee House in her must dine-out once list and we were there a few hours back. Yes, loved it.
The location is the location. United Coffee House (UCH) has been at the same location since it opened its doors more than seven decades back. E-15 Connaught Place, Inner Circle, is central in all respects. UCH is not near the heart of the city, it is very much in the heart of the city and amidst all action. It is next to Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, 20-minute walk from New Delhi railway station and, in midst of food capital of NCR.
They have long operating hours. They start at 9:30 AM and accept last order till 11:30 PM. Open all seven days, booking on weekends is must, on other days, recommended. Yes, they do serve breakfast all day long.
The main hall and upper deck are stunning. Good use of wood and fascinating roof work takes you back six or seven decades or more. Do look for real old door handles and door style of 1940s and 1950s, which are still very much in use. Tables are well-appointed, though pressure to make money has them too close to be called fine-dining, any more. Chairs and tables are well-maintained. When you are doing table reservation, do request a ground floor table, ask for deck only if you would do with any little bit of privacy you can get.
Skilled, trained and experienced hands with their knowledge, respect and regard shows if they wouldn’t have misguided on service charge issue, I would have surely written one full page on them. They do take food orders real nicely and know menu by heart but, they won’t give you a voluntary heads-up if you are ordering more than you can eat.
Rs 3,800/- for three, including (not so voluntary) VSC (Voluntary Service Charges) & Tips and that to without any alcoholic beverages places them at par with other fine dining restaurants and eateries fancied for ceremonial dinners and lunches.
Exhaustive, expansive, world cuisine, something for everyone and same signature dishes for those who came here in 40s, 50s and 60s is a brilliant strategy. Unquestionably, serving this full a menu and churning out every dish to tastes of guests which, in all their shapes, sizes, gender, color and nationalities, is nothing short of catering to microcosm of our world.
Drums of Heaven: Portion size is “family” or if not family at least two to a dish. To use a cliché, Drums of Heaven was surely a heavenly preparation. Important, they don’t use Ajinomoto or its variants.
Silken Route Mushroom Soup: It was not smooth as silk but, it was an average plus soup, served well and portion could lead to Delhi’s typical one-by-two.
Kathi Roll Tawa Paneer: Deliciously wonderful rolls accompanied with freshly chopped onions and a serving of peppy non-industrial chutney brought a glee to our faces.
Portuguese Fish: Thick Portuguese sauce/gravy and a portion of onion rice were fine co-workers to beautifully cooked pieces of Indian River Sole. All the three components were talking to each other.
Cheese Balls: As cheese prices went up sizes of cheese balls and quantity of cheese in cheese balls both kept coming down but, not at UCH. They still serve regular size and regular portion of cheese balls, yes, it does take a minute to recall that how big they used to be.
Stuffed Tomato: My first reaction, not influenced by Butter Chicken or Paneer Makhani. Fabulous gravy and fine balance of delicate fillings. No overdose of paneer or dryfruits.
Our Rare Blend of Cona: Rare indeed, far better than what is brewed anywhere within 3 KM radius of this place and that 3 KM radius does include quite a few 5-star hotels and of course Starbucks.
Nearby tourist attractions:
United Coffee House itself is a tourist attraction. Having said that, Palika Bazar, Connaught Place, Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, Agarsen Ki Baoli, Hanuman Mandir, Old Delhi, India Gate and all of New Delhi are tourist attractions and within minutes of drive away.