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Anaba Tea Room: Exotic Varieties in a Unique Setting

Asian influences add spice to lunch, dinner options

Jan. 26, 2011
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When you first enter Shorewood’s Garden Room, it seems like an unlikely place for a restaurant. In fact, it feels more like you are walking into a garden center. But this is no ordinary place. Continue down a level and you will find the Anaba Tea Room.

Teapots of all kinds are on display and Asian furnishings lend an Eastern theme. The tables are modest and the floors are of concrete. A large tropical vine has been planted in the center of the room, and sun streams in through a skylight.

The Garden Room was a local pioneer in the “green roof” concept. The top level contains a greenhouse and an outdoor balcony with a garden. The most interesting tables are up there as well (but tables should be requested from the host or hostess in the lower level).

Anaba Tea Room, which offers a wide range of varieties that can be sampled at a tea bar, has been in business for several years now. The day menu includes salads, tea sandwiches and desserts. Several items follow an Asian theme, such as a Vietnamese shrimp salad and a spicy Asian peanut butter sandwich. Traditionalists will find cucumber and watercress sandwiches.

Recently Anaba started serving dinners (Wednesday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m.). The evening menu includes 10 entrees—all Asian-inspired with the exception of wild mushroom pasta. A very nice feature is that nearly all items are available in half-portions.

Much of the menu is devoted to the tea selection and thorough descriptions of the teas. But there also is a list of about 20 wines and some unusual Asian beers, including Chinese Yanjing and Sri Lankan Lion Stout.

Most entrees consist of meat or seafood, though two are vegan. You will find Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese influences. Meaty, braised pork ribs tempura ($9-$18), made in a light batter, are served over white rice topped with pear black bean sauce with slivered carrots and snow peas on the side. The sauce is quite rich. Prosciutto-wrapped Thai curry shrimp ($8-$16) is peeled shrimp with the tail on with a thin wrapper of prosciutto—just enough to add a little saltiness. It comes with ginger matcha rice (matcha is a powdered green tea) and a medley of sweet red peppers, bok choy and peapods. The curry is mild; indeed, even the veggies seem spicier. The beef short ribs ($9-$18), from a thick piece of tender meat, are served over wasabi mashed potatoes accompanied with carrots, onions and peapods. Even the half-order would qualify as an entrée at many restaurants.

The full servings include a house salad or house soup. The house soup is miso with mushroom dumplings; the dumplings are made of minced mushrooms with dough. Thin slivers of carrot and snow peas add color. It’s a nice soup.

Lunches offer a soup and sandwich special ($8) that changes daily. One was a blue cheese BLT with lean slices of smoked bacon; another was beef with black pepper sauce. The thin slices of beef were served in the manner of a Vietnamese banh mi with marinated cucumbers in a small baguette. The pepper is from black peppercorns, which is very Vietnamese. This beef is also served as a dinner entrée. Two soups—one with meat, one vegan—are offered as well.

Typically, Shorewood is not a community where restaurants dare to be different. But the Anaba Tea Room definitely breaks that mold. Sit back and enjoy the calming comfort of a place that offers fine Asian food and exotic teas in a very unique setting.

Anaba Tea Room (at Garden Room)

2107 E. Capitol Drive

(414) 963-9510


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