Tea House on Burke is more than what its name suggests. Not just a charming venue to sip cups of fragrant brew, Tea House on Burke is a bona fide restaurant that is deservedly popular with Eastern suburbs diners. Three interconnected eating areas flow through the restaurant – two in the front area and another more secluded room at the rear. It's a pleasant and very comfortable space, with carpeted floors, white-clothed tables and an agreeable low-key colour scheme.
What's good to eat here is what's good to eat in many places, with plenty of favourites making an appearance. This is Cantonese cooking; light, fragrant and prepared with skill. The fried garfish with mushroom sauce, the stuffed crab claw and the salt and pepper calamari are all lovable menu characters. And that's only the beginning. The beef dishes are particularly good and so are the seafood offerings. The menu is easy to read, having been helpfully divided into clear sections covering different types of meat, poultry and seafood. Regulars tend to enter into discussion with their waiter about the best specials of the day, a lead well worth following if you want to try something a little different. The service is impeccable with helpful waiters who deftly serve from platters on to individual dishes. The wine list is well chosen and not overly expensive, so it's only worth paying $8 corkage for a very special bottle.
PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Originating in Box Hill before making its way to Hawthorn East, Tea House on Burke is like a diamond in the rough. The restaurant's shell is reasonably non-descript and not overtly Chinese either (save for the setting and the round tables, a giveaway in my book), but the Cantonese cuisine and the exceptional service are truly commendable. One can only assume that the owners used their time at Flower Drum under the esteemed Gilbert Lau wisely, by taking the very best and making it their own.
In true Chinese style, feast on appetisers such as egg rolls, deep-fried squid with spicy salt and pepper, stuffed crab's claw with minced prawn, or deep-fried wontons. Follow with staples like chicken and sweet corn or hot and sour soup. For a main choose from the easy-to-use menu helpfully divided into meat types. From the poultry section sample the sauteed chicken in Mandarin sauce; from the beef section, the eye fillet in Szechuan sauce; barramundi fillets with tofu squares in an enoki mushroom sauce are a good seafood option; and if you like pork, try the braised bean curd with BBQ pork tenderloin. Vegetarians are also well catered for. The reasonably priced wine list of well-known favourites is preferable to the $8 a bottle corkage per bottle.