Cafe Yell, The Def Col Workspace Hipsters (Still) Haven’t Found

There’s no dearth of co-working spaces in Delhi – nor yet in Defence Colony, where razor-beard bros and designer sororities may be found shouting at each other over (Very) Long Island Iced Teas in every bar (except 4S) at all hours of the day. While this may suit some people, this freelancer finds it hard going. We’ve been delighted to escape, for the last few weeks, to a little gem next to Defence Bakery called Café Yell.

The name and the atmosphere of the place could not stand further apart. Yell is an offshoot of thali fave Kathputhli next door, and instead of ravanahatta greetings and dal-baati, it offers free wi-fi (after you’ve plugged in your phone number), silent clientele, and sweet staff who pour you coffee after coffee without complaint.

Lunch and dinner hours tend to be crowded — word has gotten around about their Italian menu — but the lack of booze has contributed to keeping things muted. For stress-drinking, we recommend peach iced tea, neither artificial nor saccharine, and refreshing enough to please even this Goldilocks, who has only ever liked Ice-T in rap form. (Sorry.)

Also standing in good stead is food that holds up well for the Amici overflow crowd. Our go-to is melon and parma carpaccio salad, positively charming to look at and to eat. This is a simple salad to prepare, but the combination of juicy melon with sweet, delicately sliced Parma ham is unwaveringly perfect. However, avoid the side greens, which float on a river of balsamic dressing, or ask for oil on the side.

Please don’t eat creamy, lightly-peppered carbonara unless you intend to spend the next three hours napping over your deadline: we did and were impressed with its authentic use of spaghetti (many Def-talian places just use penne), but only after we woke from a food coma.

For this particular review meal, caramel cheesecake, on which we’d set our heart, wasn’t available, and we thought stuff like a passionfruit variant was better suited to date night than a working lunch. Unbidden, however, someone leaned over from the next table as we waved away the afters menu and recommended the fudge brownie. So, two desserts to try next time around. Hashtag Life Is Sweet – and now there’s something to look forward to the next time we emerge from bed, laptop in hand with an essay to finish, since we can’t all be Mark Twain. See you there – if you promise to shave that razor-beard off.

Getting there: 35, main market, Defence Colony, lunch for one will cost approximately Rs 800.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

This story was contributed by Avantika Mehta, an independent journalist whose work has appeared in the Hindustan Times and Scroll. She is on Twitter and Instagram as bitingfriends.

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