- Scenario #1: You suspect that your partner doesn’t love dogs like he says he does. You need a subtle way to broach the issue. Randomly asking, “Would $50,000 be enough money to induce you to take a loyal, healthy pet to the vet to be put to sleep?” won’t do.
- Scenario #2: You forgot to study for your anatomy test – a dissection on a small mammal. You need a last-minute cram session.
- Scenario #3: You left home without this essential item.
- Scenario #4: You’re bored, and you crave poutine.
The above situations are common. We’ve all been there. And we’ve all been searching for ways to overcome.
The answer is board games. At a pub.
Below, brief reviews of several joints well-equipped to come to the rescue, and a list of their excellent game offerings—from Scruples, to Operation, to Backgammon and everything in between.
The Bishop and the Belcher | corner of Church Street & Hayden (175 Bloor Street East)
The Bishop and the Belcher is a popular spot located on Church Street just steps south of Bloor. Come 6 p.m. on a weekday, it’s bustling with businessfolk winding down in gregarious groups of three or more. It’s a large venue too, the kind of place that a party of 10 could go relatively unnoticed.
A variety of new and vintage editions of classic board games are available for the picking. How long has it been since you’ve played Jenga (‘Jumbling Towers’)? Connect 4? Trouble? Things could get pretty silly. (Or if you think you’re too mature for those, every table has its own deck of Trivial Pursuit cards.)
Clinton’s | 693 Bloor Street West
The first sight you see upon walking into Clinton’s (right after the row of regulars at the bar) is a bookshelf holding two dozen board games. Among them are the classics (Scrabble, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit) as well as the retro favourites like the Game of Life and Mastermind, their original 1960s and 1970s boxes showing some healthy wear and tear. Then there’s the random games that have been all but forgotten. Parker Bros.’ Probe (1964) is hailed not immodestly in the instruction booklet as “the most provocative game of words since the invention of the modern alphabet.” (Makes you wonder why it’s not Probulous making waves on Facebook.)
Just add friends and a couple of pints.
The Old Nick | 123 Danforth Avenue
The Old Nick has a very solid collection of games, with as many new ones (Sex and the City Trivia Game, Cranium) as older ones (Monopoly, Risk). It’s also the only pub I know of where you can get a “Greek Chicken Burger”– your classic burger, garnished with tzatiki, feta, and roasted red pepper.
Highly recommended. The cozy alcove in the back of the bar, right underneath the dartboard, is where they keep the goods.
C’est What | 67 Front Street
Slimmer pickings than elsewhere — but hey, there’s always pool.
Drake Hotel | 1150 Queen Street West
And what if none of your friends are as enthusiastic about board games as you are? Room 101 Games was started a couple of years ago to bring together strangers in Sunday evening board game and Charades gatherings. Drake Hotel played host.
The Room 101 Website describes how this all went down. I’m not sure if this is still ongoing. I joined the mailing list a few weeks back, but so far no news.