The Reading Room: Honesty is the best policy

dumbfounded, adj

"And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we're together. That someone like me could find someone like you --- it renders me wordless. Because surely words could conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events.

I didn't tell any of my friends about our first date. I waited until after the second, because I wanted to make sure it was real. I wouldn't believe it had happened until it had happened again. Then, later on, I would be overwhelmed by the evidence, by all the lines connecting you to me, and us to love."

David Levithan - The Lover's Dictionary


Today's write-up is about The Reading Room at Bukit Pasoh road, hence the not-so-short quote from one of favourite recent reads. I digress. Such a sublime book to digest though. But if its books you're looking for and a comfy couch to snuggle in with a fresh cup of brewed coffee, then, this place might just be your cup of tea.

Stowed away on the quiet streets of Bukit Pasoh Road, just next to the trendier, more bustling Keong Saik street of parallel characteristics; sits The Reading Room cafe. 

The beaming pride and joy of the cafe lines the establishments from wall to wall. It's shelves packed to the brim with books of different genre and category (some collected by the owner himself while others spawning from generous donations). Each one praying to spill its tales to an unsuspecting cafe go-er at arms length. If you spot plane ticket stubs or name cards jutting out from the top of books, don't be alarmed, and I implore you not to switch the positions of these books; painstakingly tucked away by regulars currently coddling over their specific reads with every return visit.

Here in Singapore, we are no strangers to the concept of cafe by day and bar by night. But we fail to realise that this is no new concept, in fact, it has been adopted by The Reading Room for the last two years now, the transition, flawless, it's laid-back living room settings camouflaging the existence of seams between day and night even. Here, patrons are encouraged to hang one's hat up, dwell and rest within the oasis of books. Reading is optional, one can also exploit the free wifi and enjoy the lackadaisical afternoon.

The lovechild of owner Gino Abate, The Reading Room originated from his passion for entertaining the masses. Down-to-earth with a slight disgruntlement towards the level of respect for food here locally, it was easy to understand his vision for his cafe. "Good, honest food. Nothing fancy, but we do try to make sure that everyone leaves having enjoyed a good hearty meal."

In a nutshell, it was all comfort food, everything made to order, from scratch; a logic that resonated very well with me. 

I had the TRR's Aussie Burger with the Lot ($22.80) -- sans the grilled pineapple cause it reminds me of the Hawaiian pizza which I have hold a great amount of animosity towards. A 180g beef patty is topped with sweet onion chutney, fried egg, lettuce, onion, tomato, tomato sauce, homemade mayo and bacon; a respectable burger with all the expected bits of the formula in there, however the fireworks didn't light up with this rendition. The beef patty needing that little bit more fat ratio injected, it's sticky innards falling a little on the mushy side; egg as binder perhaps? It's evident that TRR lavishes care on the burgers though with evenly melted cheese and a good dash of fresh ground black pepper, the sauces diligently made from scratch.

Desserts are a modest rosters of classics. The Crumble Cheesecake sourced from Gobi Desserts, an absolute pleasure to demolish, it's sweet, slightly savoury crumb topping complimenting the creamy innards of the cheesecake. Shame about the soggy base, otherwise, a real tight effort with the balance of flavors. Another solid discovery is the Homemade Tiramisu, despite it's non-alcoholic nature which I find to be a bore, the final concoction churns out hits of deliciousness percolated by intense hits of coffee and charitable amount of mascarpone cheese unruffled by the distraction of whipped cream. It's no wonder my host was beaming from ear to ear as I tucked in with my spoon unabashedly.

The Reading Room has a facade that is so unassuming, you can mistake the restaurant for a residence, which is exactly the feel the owner is trying to convey. Unlike the usual hipster haunts nowadays, this is the place you would go to stare into space and not to be seen by others. A hidden gem for the socially inept such as I am.

Note that TRR has extended operating hours and is now opening its shutters from 8am onwards on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On top of that, an all-day-breakfast menu will be on offer on the weekends as well! Stay tuned for more daily specials on their Facebook page. Be warned that this could be severely distracting at work.

Fundamentally flawed dined as a guest of TRR, in the course of which she was absolutely smitten by the place itself. period. A major thanks to Jake for sharing the calories of that yummilicious tiramisu with me.

The Reading Room
19 Bukit Pasoh Road
T: 6220 9019

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