The Reading Room Cafe, Footscray

Dining Out: The Reading Room Cafe, Footscray

by April@MyFoodTrail on March 29, 2012

in Cafe, Dining Out, Footscray

The Reading Room Cafe
Building P, Victoria University
88 Ballarat Road, Footscray VIC
0413 842 690

With the advances in technology, the world is becoming more and more of an online society. Call me old fashioned, but it saddens me to hear that many Universities are adopting virtual lecture theatres and students are opting to listen to podcasts rather than physically attend lectures and tutorials. One of the best parts of my University days was the interaction with other students. I fondly remember spotting a cute guy in my lecture theatre, and then my heart doing little somersaults when I found out he was in the same tutorial as me! Or the close friendships I formed to help make my Uni days more memorable. I would have missed these experiences if I did all my learning online.

One thing I did not have fond memories of at Uni was the food! I remember having hot chips more times than I should, as it was cheap and probably the best thing in the Uni cafeteria! It was such joy when a little Asian grocery store opened on campus and we had access to pre-packaged, refrigerated Chinese food in plastic containers, heated up in the microwave once you paid!

I was invited along this past weekend to The Reading Room Cafe, located in the Victoria University Footscray Park Campus, to sample their weekend menu. They are running a pop-up charity initiative for 8 weeks, where starting on Saturday 7 April, they will be donating a portion of their proceeds to charities and organisations in the area. They open Monday to Friday for University students and staff, but have just begun their weekend trade with a special weekend menu designed by resident chef Ingo Meissner (St Ali, Outpost and Fitzrovia). I was curious as to how good University food can be… well, turns out it can be pretty fantastic!

Parking is free along Hoadley Court, which is a rarity in Footscray! It’s a short walk to the building where The Reading Room is located, but it felt almost like a mystery venue with signboards leading the way. The interior encapsulates exactly how I imagined a cosy, warm, inviting cafe to look like – smallish space without feeling cramped, smiling staff and a modern wooden decor with books in the corner.

The Reading Room Cafe - Inside

Inside The Reading Room Cafe

Even though I don’t drink coffee, my dining companions do and they all started with a coffee before the food arrived. The Reading Room cafe uses Sensory Lab and Small Batch Auction Rooms coffee. Hubby has never tried cold drip coffee before so he took the opportunity to try it out. I don’t think it’s his cup of tea (or coffee haha!). He said it tasted like cold, watered down coffee, which is exactly what it is but you are supposed to pick up the subtleties and flavour nuances to really taste the coffee for what it is.

The Reading Room Cafe - Coffees

Pretty coffee art. Cold drip coffee in the middle.

The menu is quite diverse – there will be something for everyone, whether it be “Goldilocks’ Secret Porridge” or “Spanish Inquisition”. I did the smart thing and asked one of the owners, Eleena, what she would recommend. We ordered four dishes between four of us and each had a quarter of each dish. Win for all of us!

We started with the Frenchman’s Burger which was a chicken thigh fillet burger, with avocado, tomato, spinach and a very delicious aioli. The chicken was very tender and the aioli and harissa yogurt made the burger.

The Reading Room Cafe - Frenchman's Burger

Frenchman’s Burger – tender chicken burger, avocado, tomato, spinach, lemon aioli and harissa yoghurt $14.50

Next up was the roasted pork belly, with an accompanying grated apple and zucchini salad sitting underneath the pork belly. The pork belly could have had a crunchier crackling and the meat could have been a bit more tender, but the apple and zucchini was good enough to make you excuse that. The chilli jam was served with flatbread and was very tasty.

The Reading Room Cafe - Crackle & Pop

Crackle & Pop – roasted pork belly, apple and zucchini remoulade, coriander, chilli jam and toasted flatbread $16.50

I’m not a fan of bacon and maple syrup, probably because I’ve never had it done well. The Reading Room Cafe does it so well, I’m now a convert… to this dish at least! There’s something about the combination of the buttery soft brioche, the salty bacon, the sweet maple syrup and the crunchy candied walnuts that makes this dish a winner. A must try dish! My photo doesn’t do it justice.

The Reading Room Cafe - The BFG

The BFG – Brioche French toast with a Generous serve of crispy bacon, candied walnuts and maple syrup $14.50

I like corn fritters and it seems like every cafe has it on their menu nowadays, but the last few corn fritters I’ve had have been either too pancakey or too eggy. The fritters at The Reading Room Cafe are not your average breakfast fritters… they have been deep fried until brown and crispy on the outside, with a delightful, soft centre. They are served with two poached eggs, smashed avocados and tomato chutney. I would order this dish again.

The Reading Room Cafe - Fritter's Lane

Fritter’s Lane – Sweet corn, pumpkin and coriander fritters, poached eggs, avocado, tomato chutney $14.50

We finished off with a 3 tier high tea platter, one savoury and two sweet tiers. The savoury tier had two mini bagels and a mushroom and tomato tart. The sweet tiers had two scones, a dark chocolate brownie with the texture of a mousse, two passionfruit tarts and two mini carrot cake muffins.

The Reading Room Cafe - 3 tiered High Tea platter

3 tier high tea platter

Overall: I don’t venture over the Westgate to the Westside too often, but The Reading Room Cafe is worth travelling for. Don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s located inside the University, as this cafe produces some great food. Combined with the lovely atmosphere and friendly staff, The Reading Room Cafe is a fantastic place for breakfast or lunch. Plus if you visit from 7 April, you’ll know that some of your spend is contributing to a charity or the local community.

What to order: Definitely the brioche French toast and the fritters.

If you want to be one of the first to try out the new weekend menu at Reading Room Cafe, they are offering a 25% discount for this weekend (Saturday 31 March / Sunday 1 April) only. All you need to do is email for a booking.

Over & Out, April xx

April and her dining companions dined as a guests of The Reading Room Cafe.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Iron Chef Shellie March 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

zomg I want the french toast in ma belly stat!


April@MyFoodTrail March 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm

The French toast is worth the trip over to the other side!


michelle March 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

How can you fit in so much of food!


April@MyFoodTrail April 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

LOL, it wasn’t that much! There was four of us!


Sarah March 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Ooh! Those corn fritters look amazing! I know what I’ll be ordering when I visit 🙂


April@MyFoodTrail April 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

Glad to see you enjoyed them… enough to return the next day 😉


Flower@Nevertoosweet April 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

I totally know what you mean! The food at Uni is never good…even though there was one decent cafe at my Uni it was quite expensive 🙁 I’ve never heard a Uni cafe opening on the weekends and serving external guests hehe

All the food here looks great ~ The afternoon tea’s so small lol my boyfriend will complain that its not enough 😛

I rarely go over the Westgate bridge either…but if you say it’s worth it I think its time I ventured to that side of Melbourne 😀


April@MyFoodTrail April 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

It’s definitely worth the visit and trip over the Westgate for the fritters and French toast! 🙂


Agnes April 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

We went today. It was yum ++. 😀 I’ll have Alastair explain his yum scale next time we meet.


April@MyFoodTrail April 3, 2012 at 9:20 am

Haha, I look forward to hearing about the rating scale! 😀


Thanh April 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

It was such a great meal. Thanks for inviting me along. The French Toast and Fritters are definitely ORSM.


April@MyFoodTrail April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm

No worries, glad it was an ORSM meal 😀


Winston April 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Hrmmm… Maple syrup + bacon would make me go: @_@ too. But if you say they’ve got you converted, then I definitely have to try! I don’t know which I like more, the fact that they are a UNI cafe or that they give a cut of their proceeds to charity. Either way, they are SO cool. Have to try!! =D


April@MyFoodTrail April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Yes, yes, yes! Go there before it gets too crowded! Worth the trip for that French toast!


Adrian Briones (@food_rehab) April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

The BFG, The BFG!! Loved it. So happy there’s a decent french toast nearby now 🙂


April@MyFoodTrail April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Lucky you! I would be there a lot too if it was closer to home! 🙂


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