Across the Board
Address: 211 Bannatyne Ave
In the current age of smartphones and instant entertainment, cafes remain bastions of face to face fun. At the newly expanded Across the Board Cafe, analog entertainment isn’t going anywhere.
Board game cafes began trending in major cities less than five years ago, and Across the Board became the first such business in Winnipeg in 2014. It caught on quickly, and soon the business outgrew its small space on Albert St, moving into a pristine and sun-washed space on the corner of Main and Bannatyne early this year.
For a cover price of $6, customers can play any of the games from the restaurant’s massive floor-to-ceiling library while noshing on something scrumptious. The spacious dining room is decked out with chandeliers, and the kitchen really pulls out all the stops, with a full menu of filling fare.
Appetizers seem designed to pair with local beer, like a juicy local brat served with curry-spiked ketchup, a pile of sauerkraut, and a soft, salt laden pretzel, made in house. Chips, flavoured popcorn, and salted edamame are all offered as snacks for hungry gamers who need something to munch on between turns.
Excellent entrées make this cute café worth a visit whether you’re itching to roll dice or not. A noodle bowl named after monster battle board game King of Tokyo is an umami-rich soup loaded with vermicelli and tender shreds of pork. Cucumber, cilantro, and spears of green apple are piled on top, offering a crisp counterpoint to the rich broth below. Vegetarians are well served with options like the portobello mushroom bowl. Slices of meaty mushroom are served over a hearty buckwheat risotto, with a swirl of chimichurri zinging through the dish’s richness.
Fun plays on casual staples are also sure bets. Bison pork salami, sautéed spinach, dried cranberries and smears of goat cheese elevate a simple pizza. Sammies and burgers include playful offerings like the kale-topped “Hipster Burger”, which pairs funky blue cheese with a sweet-tart relish of cranberries and tomatoes.
The friendly atmosphere extends from the shouts of excitement from surrounding tables—deep in board game competition—to game experts happy to answer questions or make a recommendation (despite the 1000+ game selection, employees are unflappably informed). The restaurant also hosts weekly community events like mix n’ mingle night.