Reading Room Cafe

The Reading Room Cafe has turned itself into a pop up with a purpose for the next eight weeks.  The cafe which is tucked away inside Victoria University in Footscray is opening up for weekends for the first time and will be donating 20 per cent of profits to a different charity each week.  I was invited to visit the cafe ahead of the launch of the pop up which begins for the Easter weekend with the nominated charity of the Red Shield appeal.   You can vote for other charities to be included on the Reading Room Cafe’s Facebook page.

Poached eggs with bacon and mushrooms

Don’t go to the Reading Room Cafe just to be charitable though, go for the excellent coffee from Sensory Lab and Auction Rooms alongside some seriously good food.  The people behind the Reading Room Cafe are coffee fanatics and it shows in the range of brews available which include slow drips and single origins.  Our waitress was very knowledgeable about her beans and recommended Sensory lab’s Chompy for a flat white and cappuccino while for my latté ($3.30) I opted for the single origin red bourbon from Columbia.

Latté with single origin red bourbon

Chef Ingo Meissner (formerly of St Ali and Fitzrovia) is behind the stoves at the Reading Room Cafe and has launched an extended menu for the weekend pop up.  There’s standard breakfast fodder on there like the “Eggs Hemingway” ($9.50) which are eggs served anyway (the poached version were perfectly cooked) alongside sides like sauteéd mushrooms ($4) and bacon ($3.50).


However, there are also some more interesting dishes like the sweetcorn, pumpkin and coriander fritters ($14.50).  This was a behemoth of a dish with poached eggs, mashed avocado and a tomato chutney accompanying the fritters however the fritters were light enough that the dish did not overwhelm.

The daily tart special

There is a tart special ($14) which changes on a daily basis and on our visit comprised a huge wodge of  tomato, baked cauliflower and mushroom tart alongside a pomegranate salad.  It was an eggy wonder although was slightly over seasoned and had me running for my water glass.  The most adventurous dish on offer was the roasted pork belly ($16.50) which is certainly a hearty option to have on an all day breakfast menu.  The pork belly was deliciously fatty with a crunchy layer of crackling on top.  It was served with a refreshing apple and zucchini remoulade alongside chilli jam and toasted flatbread.

Pork belly

For the duration of the charity pop up the Reading Room Cafe is also introducing an afternoon tea menu ($25 for two) complete with a tiered cake stand.


We had a sneaky sample of the scones which were fluffy and light and the cakes including a tiny but swoon worthy passionfruit tart.

Passionfruit tart, chocolate cake and carrot cake

The Reading Room Cafe is a great little place with student friendly serving sizes.  If you just eat breakfast here you are unlikely to feel hungry for the rest of the day.  The drawback is the cafe’s location in the middle of the university buildings which is pretty desolate on the weekends.   Hopefully the charity pop up will bring a few more people into the area.

I was invited to review Reading Room Cafe.


Details: Reading Room Cafe, Victoria University, Ballarat Road, Footscray 3011 (Ph 0413 842 690) Open Mon – Fri 7.30 -7, Sat – Sun 8 – 6.
Damage: Reasonable but on this occasion I did not pay.

Reading Room Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Good to see Reading Room doing this for charity

  2. I really need more corn fritters in my life. These look amazeballs

  3. Anon – Indeed, a worthy cause

    Iron Chef Shellie – I think they are actually even better corn fritters than St Ali’s famous ones.

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