Pickwick’s, The Claridges
12 Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi 110011
Tea for two, with heavy snacks: Rs 2,000
Notwithstanding austerity drives and touching scenes of Rahul baba eating poori sabzi in the hinterland, the truth is Congressmen rather like hanging about in hotels, especially those in the vicinity of the all-important AICC. While big shots favour the House of Ming at the Taj and the coffee shop of the Meridien, several middle-rungers and aspirants (yes even the better class of Haryanvi ticket-seeker, not given to hanging around outside bhavans) have a marked fancy for Pickwick’s—cosy, wood-panelled, old worldish and above all, quite unobtrusive.
They generally make a beeline for the back of the restaurant, away from the wide windows overlooking the hotel’s driveway, settle themselves down in a Dickensian huddle on its comfortable sofas and gossip and plot over rounds of tea and chilli cheese toast in the leisurely hours between lunch and dinner. The food is admirably predictable, always a great virtue in a coffee shop. The club sandwich well assembled, the green pea samosas crisp, the fresh sweet lime juice never watery, the tea piping hot. The chilli cheese toast has, we find, been taken off the menu, in favour of some alarmingly chi-chi dishes to advance Pickwick’s claim to being (that awful word) a multi-cuisine restaurant. But no matter, the obliging staff will produce it on demand.