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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: Thanks for the invite, Jake.