Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reading Room Cafe

I rarely travel to the Western suburbs of Melbourne but with the extra time granted by the long weekend, I headed out to Footscray with M to catch up a friend I'd seen altogether too little of this year. 

Reading Room Cafe is located within the Victoria University Footscray Campus. There weren't an abundance of students around on the weekend (even though it was exam period), but instead, the clientele were a mix of young families, groups of friends, and a golden retriever. The cafe was filled with bright sunshine, and I was happy to be finally soaking up some vitamin D.

Reading Room Cafe

The first thing I noticed about this menu was the great range of coffee on offer.

Coffee Menu at Reading Room Cafe

The fancy Syphon, Pour over and Cold drip methods were all available, and seemed very tempting, but the blends available for the standard method caught my eye; CHOMPY (by Sensory Lab) and CANDYMAN (by Small Batch), as well as a Single Origin blend.

While the Candyman was designed to be drunk black, I ordered the Chompy instead, because, well, look at the name. I can't go past something that reminds me of the noise a dinosaur makes.

Chompy: Long Macchiato

I was excited when my coffee did arrive, and I found a baby Alien in it. My dining companions thought I was (more) nuts than usual, but really, how adorable is it? The coffee itself was wonderful too, being strong, but not too acidic.

The food menu is actually quite varied as they serve brunch and high tea all day. Apart from the selection of muffins and pastries (which required a great deal of willpower to not order), they have the standard egg based breakfast dishes, as well as lunch-time sandwiches and mains. They even have a seasonal menu available on the weekends.

Being winter, pumpkin was on the menu, so I ordered the Guinness Braised Beef Cheek on Pumpkin Mash, Wild Rocket & Parsley.

Guinness Braised Beef Cheek on Pumpkin Mash, Wild Rocket & Parsley

While overall I did enjoy my meal, with the contrast between the saltiness of the meat, the sweetness of the pumpkin and the freshness of the rocket and parsley, I still think there was a lot that could have been improved in the dish. The meat was simply too tough, and the pumpkin a little too bland. Maybe a few pine-nuts in the greens would not have gone astray either. The serving size was decent however, so I was satisfied with the dish.

M ordered the Crackle's Twin, a roasted pork belly sandwich, roasted peppers, hummus, apple & zucchini slaw and chilli jam.

Crackle's Twin

While beautiful to look at, it was unbelievably messy to eat. It'd been presented on a flat serving platter instead of a plate, so it was impossible to stop bits of pork, bread and salad from getting all over the table. I found the pork belly itself too be oily, and the bread was a bit dry, so unfortunately while this dish looked great on paper, it didn't live up to its promise of greatness. 

My friend who ordered the A Nice Place to Visit; a black truffle omelette, wilted spinach with potato and haloumi croquette seemed to have better luck with his dish.

A Nice Place to Visit

The light and fluffy truffle omelette was perfect, with just the right dose of truffle flavour, incorporating both little truffle shavings and truffle oil in the creamy, egg-heavy dish. I didn't try any of the croquette, but it sounded delicious (if a little small).

If I had a cafe like this on campus during my student days, I would have been there at least once a week for the coffee and the omelette if nothing else. As it stands though, Footscray is too out of the way for me travel there frequently. If you're in the area though, they're well worth a visit with their great coffee, good food, efficient service, and reliable opening hours.

Reading Room Cafe
88 Ballarat Rd Building P, Footscray
Mon-Fri 730am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

Reading Room Cafe (Victoria University) on Urbanspoon


  1. Truffle omelette! Sounds like my kind of food. :D I don't really see the baby alien though, looks more like an eel to me. :P

    1. I wish that I'd ordered it instead!

      As for the baby alien, maybe I've just got Prometheus on the mind :P

  2. Ah, it seems like they've updated their menu since my visit. It's a shame the couple of dishes you tried weren't so fantastic but the omelette looks great and something that I'd order, if only just for the haloumi croquette!

    1. If they update their menu regularly, it might actually be worth the trip out.

      I'll probably stick to the egg dishes next time as so far it seems like they do those really well.