Roll Play Cafe
Roll Play Cafe opened in September just north of Yonge and Dundas, offering a selection of board games to play while enjoying a coffee, quick snack, or your next meal. Walking up a bright blue stairwell to get to the second floor space, I arrive in search of a relaxing evening of fun games and good food with friends after a long day at work.
Owner Shan Ho says he decided to open a board game cafe to provide a forum to bring people together: "Everyone's going digital nowadays, but this is a great way to connect with each other...we use board games as the medium."
Ho tells me that Roll Play has about 300 popular, in-print games to choose from, so people can try out games and purchase their favourites. Other board game cafes may have more games on hand, but Roll Play's shelves still offer a range of options, particularly strategy games and party hits, and also some timeless classics and kid-friendly choices (seeing Clue and Operation triggered some serious childhood flashbacks). A selection of games is also available for purchase.
There's no cover charge for playing board games, but you must order something off the menu. The big sign of house rules also says there's no loitering and staff can limit seating time. Ho explains that, in other words, if there's a line and you aren't ordering something else, you'll eventually get handed the bill.
After my friend arrives, we settle into a comfy booth. The space feels both sleek and inviting, with exposed brick and ducts, uniform wooden tables and chairs, big black booths, and a couple low tables with leather couches and chairs for larger groups.
Ho says that staff can suggest games, but guests shouldn't expect to be taught how to play. After briefly chatting, our server brings over Blokus and gives a quick rundown to get us started. Our conversation slows as we become increasingly focused on figuring out the next move. Looking for some trivia action, our server suggests Kwizniac , which keeps us entertained as a couple other friends arrive to join in.
The menu is still being finalized, but currently includes salads, sandwiches and pizzas, as well as shareable snacks like nachos and popcorn. Beverage options include espresso-based drinks, teas, juice, and Hank's Sodas . The Americano ($4) has a bit more water than I'd like, but provides a nice jolt for the evening's festivities.
My friend's Canadian pizza ($10) comes piping hot, with soft focaccia as the base for ample amounts of sauce and gooey cheese, all topped off with bacon, pepperoni, ground beef, and Italian sausage. The small pieces make it perfect for sharing as we dig in.
The pizza is decent, but the guacamole grilled cheese ($6) tops it. The sourdough bread can barely contain chunks of fresh avocado, diced tomato, and melted cheddar, finished off with the zing of fresh lime. The prime rib sandwich, made with triple A prime rib ($8), is also "very delicious," according to our photographer.
For dessert, we opt for the house special: a bubble waffle, consisting of little spheres of soft golden brown dough, served with vanilla ice cream, sliced strawberries and banana, Nutella flavoured whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. It's definitely a fun dessert to eat, although next time I may try one of the decadent cakes on display (around $7-8/slice).
Overall, my friends and I had a great time, but it would be nice if the selection of games were easier to navigate. Games are roughly organized by general category, but some labels on the shelves (and perhaps some suggested picks) would make it easier to find the perfect game. They also don't do split bills, which can be a tad annoying for groups of friends and coworkers.
Based on the growing crowd of students, young professionals, and couples laughing (or letting out collective groans as the Jenga tower came crashing down), we weren't the only ones enjoying a fun Friday evening at Roll Play. With satisfying food, fun games, and the feel good sounds of classic rock and pop music playing overhead, it's hard to go wrong.
Roll Play Cafe is open Sunday to Wednesday 11am to midnight, and Thursday to Saturday 11am to 1am. Reservations are accepted.
Photos by James C. Lee