tea house in the hills

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since the closing of the tea pot cafe in ss2 and the kl branch of cameron highlands' ye olde smokehouse, there hasn't been a good replacement where english style cafes are concerned. until miss ellie tea house that is, a family-run cosy nook located in a row of old shophouses - they've been around more than 30 years - deep inside taman melawati. a lush green residential area in the foot of melawati hill populated by wide roads and shady trees. it feels like the countryside, and it's all of 30 minutes from klcc. it may not seem like sharp business acumen to open an f&b outlet in such quiet surrounds, but miss ellie's english inclinations, with its cottage-style decor and menu, is actually very well placed here.

melbourne-trained pastry chef justine ong returned to kl after 10 years of working in hotels and even an oil rig, to open this seven-month-old gem of a place. his mother, nancy, runs the front of house, welcoming customers to what the family had aimed to be a homey sanctuary where people come to get away while tucking into scrumptious cakes and a spot of tea - and they have pulled it off impeccably. miss ellie oozes charm at every turn.

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push through the doors and the first thing you see is the sofa seating that could well be someone's living room. not surprisingly, guests have walked in asking if they should leave their shoes at the door! a motley selection of brics and bracs, including the family's personal collectibles, dress up the place. besides the main dining area, there is a cosy corner behind the display cabinet, with a small table that can seat three. if you're visiting solo, this is the ideal spot to hide away in. you'll be provided with a little bell to ring for service - a discreet, genteel way of getting attention without having to shout or wave madly.

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everything is made in house and from scratch, and even though justine faces challenges in staying true to recipes due to the unavailability of certain ingredients, that hasn't stopped him from crafting beautiful baked goods. 

cakes are displayed on stands under glass cloches, and placed on top of the dressers in the main area. chocolate chip red velvet, carrot walnut, flourless chocolate, passion fruit white chocolate and financiers are regularly available along with scones and their signature, the pandan panna cotta with gula melaka and fresh fruits. the pandan - harvested from the wild by jason himself - emits a wonderful aroma and while the panna cotta is perfection: wobbly but not slippery, it glides down the throat like a dream. the gula melaka syrup that it sits on matches its fairly thick consistency. tiny cubes of honeydew and halved strawberries balance out the sweetness. 

the lemon tart is another dessert we would go back for: zesty lemon custard encased in a crumbly pastry, with a layer of burnt sugar a la creme brulee and a dollop of blueberry compote to cut through the tartness. the textures complement each other very well, with the sugar layer adding a nice bit of crunch. scones are their other specialty, served fresh from the oven and in pairs of regular (studded with raisins) and wholemeal, with blueberry (usually strawberry) compote and cream. the gianduja is nutty-licious, as it should be. another plus point to miss ellie's cakes is the serving size - ideal for one person, and often leaves room for seconds.

what really got our tastebuds and toes tingling was the creme brulee. the evenly burnt sugar crust cracks into crunchy pieces, and shields a thick, silky custard. the two balance each other out in texture and flavour, mingling delightfully in the mouth. you will want to lick up every single bit of the filling. it comes with the same blueberry compote as the lemon tart and the scones, but in this case, is unnecessary.

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the hot food menu started off with just four items, led by spaghetti bolognese, nancy's recipe that she honed over the years and which has always been her children's favourite. the pasta, a little under al dente, is served in a beautiful twirled heap with a fairly generous amount of bolognese that smacks of homecooked flavours, and garnished with a single basil leaf - simple and straightforward, as comfort food should be. likewise the chicken parmigiana, two pieces of finely crumbed and well-crisped fillet served with a side salad. miss ellie has since expanded their hot menu to include classic british favourites with a twist, such as tikka shepherd's pie, lamb shank pot pie and tea-smoked salmon. the tikka is beautifully done, a small but substantial serving of well-spiced chicken pieces topped with gratin-style potatoes and a side salad.

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all of which are additional reasons to keep going back to this cosy and charming tea house in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood with the world's longest quartz ridge in the distance where the service is always cheerful, the cakes are beautiful and the ambience is soothing ambience. and miss ellie? that's the family's pet poodle, whose photograph takes pride of place on top one of the cabinets in the main dining area. we told you this place is charming.  

miss ellie tea house no 7 jalan h3, taman melawati, kl tel +603 4162 0113 opens 10am-7pm, tue-sat; closed sun-mon  www.missellieteahouse.com  facebook