Despite having an embarrassingly large backlog of places to write about that are actually North East of the city, this post is about Roll Play Cafe – a board game cafe located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Board game cafés are all the rage at the moment, with at least seven to choose from in Toronto. Roll Play, however, stands out from the rest with their amazing food, created by a former chef of Auberge du Pommier.
Super High Roller Nachos 16
Unlike other board game spots, Roll Play does not charge any cover, regardless of how much time you spend at the cafe. Instead, the food prices are slightly inflated, but well worth it for the quality of their offerings. We started with their most excessive nachos, the Super High Roller, with crispy tri-coloured chips topped with cheese (Monterey Jack and cheddar), tomato, onion, peppers, olives, jalapenos, bacon, ground beef, and chicken. On the sides were generous dollops of sour cream and an excellent made-in-house guacamole. We inhaled these nachos (and all the subsequent food) so quickly that the game master came by to express his awe at our speed at one point during our evening.
Warm Spinach Dip 8, Extra Focaccia 3.5
We continued our snacking with their spinach dip. I was most impressed by the baked-to-order focaccia that was sprinkled with tarragon, rather than the more typical rosemary. If you gobble down the bread too quickly (like us) and/or forget to apply the spinach dip generously, extra orders of bread are available to mop up the rest of the sauce.
Prime Rib Sandwich 8
After seeing this picture of their in-house roasted prime rib, I was very eager to try the prime rib sandwich. Panini-pressed with Swiss cheese, mushrooms and arugula, this was our favourite sandwich of the night. P and I seriously considered returning the next day just for it!
Montreal Smoked Meat Panini 7.5
While the thinly sliced layers of smoked meat topped with spinach makes a delicious sandwich on its own, Roll Play raises the bar by serving it with a creamy, delicately-cooked egg in olive oil.
Guacamole Grilled Cheese 6
We also ordered the guacamole grilled cheese, as the guacamole on the nachos was delicious and disappeared too quickly. Generally the addition of bread and melted cheese can only make things better, and this sandwich was no exception. Although the bite I took was particularly lime-y, the sandwich was delicious, and a great vegetarian alternative.
Bubble Waffle with Nutella-Banana Whipped Cream 6
For dessert, we opted for the sole option made in-house, the bubble waffle with Nutella-banana whipped cream. Roll Play uses a different batter than the typical “little chicken egg” sellers, resulting in a crispier waffle perfect for scooping up the whipped cream. We hear this dish may become a limited time option.
Hear Me Out: best card ever – I used this to acquire popcorn
In addition to the food above we also ordered a bowl of barbeque popcorn, a latte and a few hot chocolates, all of which I forgot to take photos of. The hot chocolates are made of Ritter Sport stirred into milk, instead of the powder-based concoctions commonly found at other cafes. As there are numerous Ritter Sport flavours, hopefully, Roll Play will eventually offer more hot chocolate options as well!
Toc Toc Woodman – please stop sabotaging me!
Neatly stacked on shelves of each end of the spacious cafe are a wide variety of games ranging from classics like Catan and Carcassonne, to party games for all ages. Not being in the mood for deck builders or strategy games that night, we sampled a selection of their party games:
Toc Toc Woodman – a kickstarted game that improves on Jenga. Remove the tree bark without knocking out a piece of the trunk, and hope your friends aren’t purposely sabotaging you.
Pick a Pig – deceptively simple game requiring you to create the longest sequence of nearly matching cards. It sadly took us impatient folks several rounds to play correctly.
Canadian Monopoly – extra entertaining when you set a 30 minute time limit and play in a ridiculous frenzy.
We Didn’t Playtest This At All – we got through about half a round before passing on to a game that had been playtested.
Magician’s Kitchen – adorable children’s game requiring you to maneuver marbles into cauldrons with surprise magnet traps in the game board, that I am terrible at.
Telestrations – the best party game, especially with people who can’t draw.
Hear me Out – a Cranium like game that inspired some very bizarre speeches and brainstorming sessions.
Why have business cards when there are dice?
In addition to the excellent food and games selection, there is a wide variety of seating, with long tables that can accommodate larger groups, or booths for a more intimate setting. The cafe is located up a flight of stairs, with clean washrooms that are conveniently located on the same floor. The upstairs location also provides a great view of the street below. Reservations for larger groups are available, which is a much more pleasant alternative to the several-hours-long queues at other board game venues.
Our only gripe of the evening was with our somewhat overzealous waitress, who began our evening by asking for our orders with unnerving regularity, although we informed her that we were still waiting for the majority of our party to arrive. Then, each time we ordered a dish, she would remove one of our menus, which we took to hiding whenever we ordered to save the remaining ones for when we felt like having another snack. Also, on a giant blackboard at the front of the cafe is a list of their house rules written in very large letters – one of these rules is that patrons may ask for the wifi password. Our waitress was very confused when we asked her for it, explaining that they did not give that information out, although she quickly checked with the manager and came back with the password when we pointed out the rule. Fortunately, these issues are easy to fix with some training in food service, and the staff in general were very helpful and friendly.
Last but not least, with your bill comes a neat souvenir – customized dice with the 6 face replaced with the words “Roll Play Cafe”. Overall, Roll Play Cafe is definitely worth returning to, especially for that prime rib sandwich!
Visited Saturday evening, October 26, 2013.
Roll Play Cafe
10A Edward St, Toronto