The Reading Room, Tanjong Pagar
If lounging at a café with a cuppa joe and novel in hand sounds like a page out of your book, The Reading Room (TRR) should be in your must-visit list of cafés in Singapore.
Famed for being a scene shot in Crazy Rich Asians, the hipster-idyllic café is as its name suggests is tiered to the brim with books and eclectic vintage artefacts – a perfect haunt for bookworms and bohemians alike. We were invited by the lovely Quandoo tribe and eagerly took the chance on an early weekend afternoon to experience TRR’s charms and delights. Crossing the entryway, we were immediately transported to a cosy alcove of book-filled shelves and admittedly we were swept off our feet by the collection of mis-matched antiques that TRR has garnered.
French oldies played over the speakers and the atmosphere reminded us of the library in “Downton Abbey”. Jemima Sim-Abate, the head-chef of TRR, warmly welcomed us and we felt an immediate connection with her genuity along with her fellow staff – which we must confess, won us over before we had even sat down! Jemima carefully selected a few choices from the brunch menu (which is featured during the weekends and holidays from 11am to 5pm) with beverages to pair.
The Cappuccino ($5.50+), or "drama-ccino" as Jemima affectionately calls it, is laden with more foam than usual cappuccinos! Using Italian coffee beans specially imported from their relatives in Naples and a barista’s eye for perfection, TRR’s cappuccino has a medium-bodied earthy taste that leans to the end with a twinge of bitterness. The thick cloud-like foam dissipates into a milky cocoa aftertaste, which some caffeine-addicts may very well dispute. (We certainly loved it though.)
If coffee or tea isn’t your choice of refreshment, a fresh cold-pressed juice will kickstart the health-junkie in you. A healthier alternative to regular blended juice, TRR’s cold-pressed juice tastes nothing like we’ve ever had – OJ and carrots ($7.80+) that are fresher, more refreshing and naturally sweet as they come; with bits of orange pulp and carrot flesh and a sprig of mint to brighten the already rejuvenating drink. We definitely would recommend this.
An interesting tidbit is that TRR uses fanciful Noritake chinaware to plate the dishes for an elegant yet casual sophisticated feel, with Jemima jokingly adding that “everything just tastes nicer on Noritake!”. We certainly can’t deny that, and those IG-worthy shots do certainly pop!
The souffle pancakes ($12.80+) is a meringue-based pancake that we felt was more "cakey" than most pancakes. You could add the crowd-favourite stewed strawberries or blueberries with cream for $4+ or top it off with ice cream as well. Sweet-tooth fans may enjoy the overtly sweet goodness but perhaps do have it while its hot.
Our personal favourite is TRR’s Smashed Avocados ($19.80+ with smoked salmon). The hollandaise sauce was primed to perfection, layered on almost-perfect poached eggs and creamy ripe avocados! The creamy triple-layered oozy-goodness on crisp toast made for great juxtaposition, and it was nicely topped with the umami (mm-yummy) smoked salmon to balance the palate. Definitely a 100 out of 100 for us!
Throughout the entire experience, we observed that Jemima and her staff had not neglected the rest of the patrons of TRR despite the busy weekend crowd, and we are glad that it was an impartial and sincere service. Although the price tag may be a slight heftier, TRR does absorb the GST (hurray, no GST!), but do note there is a service charge of 10%.
With the delightful brunches available coupled with homely service, its best to take a trip to The Reading Room and enjoy the experience yourself with no expectations. If you’re worried that the weekend crowd might leave you waiting long in TRR, use Quandoo to reserve a journey to the antiquity wonderland of The Reading Room! (While you’re around the area, why not pop by Pastaria Abate, run by Jemima’s husband, Gino Abate for an authentic Italian pasta? Keep a lookout for our review with them soon!) The Reading Room 19 Bukit Pasoh Rd Singapore 089833
Opening Hours Weekdays: 11:00am – 11:30pm Saturday: 9:30am – 1:30am Sunday: 9:30am – 11.30pm (Hours may differ for Public Holidays and Eve of Public Holidays) Contact: +65 6220 9019