City Hangout – Udupi Café, Pratap Bhawan, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
A summer oasis.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The window blinds are smothering out any hint of the day, keeping the hall in a cool delicious shade.
Udupi Café in Central Delhi’s ITO (Pratap Bhawan, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg) is an idyllic May-and-June oasis, permeated with the languid romance of a post-lunch siesta. Otherwise, the South Indian specialty eatery has the atmosphere of a messy canteen.
This afternoon, the tables are filled with tie-wearing office-goers. The ceiling is echoing with the clattering of forks, spoons, and hushed banter. The air is scented by sambhar curry. Far, far away is the blinding white heat of the boiling city. Nobody in here can guess the extent of the summer atrocity lurking outside.
While the dosas and idlis are as decent as in any Udupi restaurant worth its name, the real draw here is its sense of slow-moving time. With some 40 years on its back, this place isn’t sleek or modern. What it offers is non-distracting comfort to wind down briefly.
The best spot for casual lounging is the corner table parked behind the soft drinks refrigerator; and where shapely shades of muffled day light beam onto the wall behind. With your back against that wall, you might well devote hours poring over your newspaper or novel. Or perhaps just discreetly inspecting all the other patrons at the other tables: who are these people and what their private lives must be like?
Udupi Café is also a pleasing place for simply turning up on your own, after the lunch crowds have thinned. It helps you get closer to yourself, if that’s what you’re pining for.
The filter coffee is excellent.
A place for summer refugees