No description of a place or a journey is complete without writing about its food, restaurants, specialities in terms of comestibles, and suchlike matters. I shall follow this highly estimable rule and write about some of our experiences re the food in Shimla, limiting myself to the eating places I visited on the Mall, since I didn’t venture beyond the Mall. Also, I shall confine myself to food, since I had my trusty Talisker as company and wanted for nothing more.
Let’s start with the grandest and the most historically important of them all – the Oberoi Cecil. It’s history is published here, so I won’t repeat it in my post. Today, the Cecil is still a magnificent structure, recently restored to its full colonial glory, with food to match. After our climbing up and down the steep slope of the State Museum, the Cecil doorway was a welcome sight and the Lounge was heaven-sent.
A modest step down from royalty and heritage brings you to Honey Hut, a small and very charming tea and cake shop at the other end of the Mall, a little bit beyond Scandal Point. This place does you a very nice job of Kangra tea, with local honey, and cakes, cookies and other things which are good for the palate and the stomach. They do emphasise the honey bit – besides honey in jars and added to your tea, you can also buy cakes of soap which contains honey as an ingredient. Esoteric as this may sound, the soap is really nice to use.
From the sublime, one has to descend on the ridiculous. Pride of place in this category goes to the Indian Coffee House.
While the location is great, the bill of fare is pretty terrible. Their filter coffee is close to being awful – even the lowliest Udupi place in Mumbai does a better job of it. Their food is worse – the mutton cutlet we ordered was less than a quarter of an inch thick, crust included; it was fried to a crisp, doubtless to hide the fact that the mutton content in the cutlet was purely notional – once expected to find a little notice in the bill reading “permitted flavouring matter added.” The only thing one can say about the Coffee House is that it’s really cheap. One can also say that it’s also really hideous and dirty – a thorough clean-up and painting job is most certainly required.