The Reading Room, Bukit Pasoh Road: Book Cafe by Day, Tapas Bar by Night, Brunch on Weekends

The Reading Room Singapore menu
Victorian philosophers were concerned over little boys reading voraciously because vices are found in books. Badass writers make the most hedonist of hedonists–Marquis de Sade, Mishima, and Henry Miller. I suspect The Reading Room’s young and handsome owner, Jake Folkoff, American-Singaporean who did his National Service, has similar rakish tendencies. Pretend pretend to be studious only, but havoc within.

Mom: Where you go havoc huh? So late then come back.

You: I was tak chek-ing at the Reading Room, OK. See my check-in on facebook.

And… I love it!, the concept, and decor, although the chairs are a little low to eat properly. The books are for sale.

The reading room cafe singapore menu
The menu comes in a children’s book.

Keeping it in the family, head chef Jemima Sim-Abate, Jake’s aunt who married an Italian, also manages a sushi restaurant in Melbourne. Jake imports coffee beans from Naples, Italy, as his Italian uncle is a roaster. The flat white was mild, smooth, and mineral.

There is nothing extraordinary about the food, just wholesome, sincere, comfort food. The set lunch menu ($15.80, 11.30am-2.30pm) comes with salad, soda, and a choice of mains. The mains remain as a la carte on dinner menu, with additional tapas options. Brunch is served on Fridays and weekends. All sauces are homemade, and ingredients are fresh, not frozen.

the reading room cafe menu
Tapas: I preferred the portobello fries ($10.80, above) to a so-so bruschetta ($8.80). The portobello, imported from Holland, sliced lengthwise, in a salty, crispy batter, was not at all healthy but very addictive, especially when dipped in aioli. I’d imagine it go well with alcohol.

the reading room cafe review
Mains: The French-styled minute steak ($15.80 set lunch, $17.80 dinner) is a New Zealand striploin that came thin, medium-rare, and topped with homemade butter tinged with cumin and curry. The side, handcut fries from Holland–so it was Dutch fries, not French fries–tasted almost like sweet potato. The chicken schnitzel ($17.80 set lunch) was what we Singaporeans call chicken cutlet. Piping hot; a thin, crispy batter. Both mains were not bad, but a pity they ran out of Sicilian pork chop, which seemed interesting because of a homemade masala wine as sauce. There are also paninis and burgers on the menu.

The reading room outram

Desserts were the chink in the armor. The homemade tiramisu ($8.70) had a caramel taste, uncharacteristic of the dessert, which I found hard to accept.
the reading room cafe sg

But as a whole, the cosy cafe with soothing jazz, and comfort food priced reasonably are a winning formula. There is a reason why they pack a full house for weekend brunch, and it’s not only because Jake is cute.

The Reading Room

19 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089833
T: 6220 9019
Sun-Th 11am-11.30pm, F-Sat 11am-1am
Brunch on F & Weekends 11am-5pm
Rating: 3.358/5 stars

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ps: Thanks for the invite, Jake.

6 replies »

  1. lol at sade. when I was younger, I tried very hard to find a copy in kino until I realised he wasn’t an author welcome in singapore – probably for good reason. mushrooms look good, but the space looks a little cluttered!


  2. I went, I saw and I ate. Simple, fresh food in cool surroundings. Chairs a little low to eat from but more than happy with my visit. Very helpful and pleasant staff.


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