A Booklover’s Delight: Review of BookTalk Cafe, Richmond.

Like reading? Love to eat? Welcome to heaven. If you are like me and love to devour literature and media, preferably while eating, you are most likely acquainted with BookTalk Cafe in Richmond. Or if you weren’t before, you will be now. I loved this place from the moment I saw it, and I get very excited about every visit. Let me tell you why.

I first discovered the delight of book cafes years ago in Perth, where there is a delightful independent one right on the river in South Perth. It was a treat to visit, and when we would head to Perth to see family, we would always make sure to stop by for a bite and a book. Yum (both the bite and the book). At this time, there wasn’t as many book cafes in Melbourne (that I knew of, at least) so it was very special. A genius idea.

Flash forward a few years later, introduce the Borders and Gloria Jeans megacorporations and there seems to be a book/cafe hybrid everywhere you turn. But not all book cafes are equal, and BookTalk in Richmond stands out for a number of reasons.

Firstly, they have not only a great range of new release books, but they also sell good quality second-hand books. You would be able to find that book that you have been dying to read without having to pay a new release price. They have also got a great system going where you will get credit for donating your second-hand books, which you can then use to purchase other second-hand books. You can then donate those for credit again, and so on. I love this idea, as it gives books a chance to be loved and cherished again. This wins big points from me.

Secondly, their food is very delicious. I have only eaten here a few times, but every time my dish has been of a very high standard and I have left feeling quite satisfied. I recall having a beautiful white chocolate and raspberry muffin here, and a yummy coffee. Most recently, I visited BookTalk with my mum for a late lunch. We were both famished, but didn’t quite realise it at the time. I ordered a chicken, avocado and salad sandwich on wholemeal bread, which was huge. I didn’t think that I would eat it all, and anticipated taking home half of the sandwich to consume later and preferably daintily. Wrong! I ate the whole thing, and my goodness it was delicious. Tasty chicken, packed to the brim with fresh salad and soft bread. Beautiful. You can see the sandwich in the picture above, but this doesn’t quite do it justice. You have to try it for yourself – tasty and healthy.

My mum had a roast vegetable salad, and a ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. The salad was Middle Eastern-inspired, and came with roast pumpkin, capsicum and pine nuts, and went down a treat. Her sandwich was also delicious, I was told! She had a coffee, and as we left I ordered a chocolate crackle which I had spotted on the counter and could no longer resist. It was a little bit fancy – being topped with dessicated coconut – but was absolutely delicious.

Our service was professional and prompt. We arrive quite late in the day on a Sunday, but we did not feel rushed at all. The great thing about BookTalk is that you can peruse their selection of books while your coffee or sandwich is being made. Two birds, one stone. I think they were closing up the kitchen when we went there, but our waiters did not make a fuss about this at all, and I appreciated that.

Flicking through the menu, it is clear that there is a lot of love behind the BookTalk idea. It is a family-run business, and in the front of the menu is a poem composed about its creation, and includes the mention of various customers. I thought this was lovely, and made me like the place even more. There are a lot of options here: various pasta dishes and frittatas, beautiful looking cakes (I struggled to resist), sandwiches and a range of breakfast options. They seem to do the basics really well, but with a twist. In terms of price, some dishes may be slightly more expensive than your regular cafe, but it is worth it for what you get. I think my massive sandwich was about $9;  my chocolate crackle was $2. Mum’s salad was about $8. Definitely worth it.

BookTalk Cafe in Richmond is the perfect haunt for bookworms and foodies (and those common amalgamations of both). If you like to shop with a conscience, you should check it out. If you like delicious, gourmet lunches and breakfast, also check it out. Oh, just go there anyway. You will love it, and most likely won’t leave empty-handed.

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