At Board Room, no chance of boredom
By Fritz Hahn
Friday, November 9, 2012
Board Room is one noisy place, and it’s not just because of its high ceilings and exposed brick walls. Sit at the long bar decorated with drawings of the top-hatted Monopoly mascot and you’ll hear the chaotic clattering and slapping of Hungry Hungry Hippos gobbling marbles, the crash of plastic chips signifying the end of another game of Connect Four and the uproarious laughter that greets an unsuccessful round of Taboo.
This is the kind of joyful pandemonium you’d find at an elementary school’s indoor recess. Whether you bring a date, your best friends or a crew from the office, you’re going to have fun.
Board Room, which opened in a spacious two-level building north of Dupont Circle in late September, is the latest outpost from the team behind Bedrock Billiards, Buffalo Billiards, Rocket Bar and other game-themed bars. Many of the local chain’s bars offer board games in addition to pool or darts, but this is the first place in Washington to be so focused on the classics from family game night.
The bar has a 20-page bound “menu” of games that’s handed out like a wine list so you can order the one you want. You’ll find Sorry!, Monopoly, Risk, Trouble, Mouse Trap and even Operation, as well as such card games as Uno, Apples to Apples and Taboo. Checking out a game costs $2 to $5 and covers your entire stay.
As long as you’re not sitting directly in front of the beer taps, the bar is wide enough for most game boards. Tables in the window seat can be pushed together for groups, and the rear of the first floor has low-slung tables and sofas. Head upstairs for even more seating, pinball and video game machines or to play at the bar decorated with maps from Risk and other strategy games. Other clever design touches include such framed kitschy games as Green Eggs and Ham and CHiPS and an installation of more than a dozen tiled Parcheesi boards that resembles intricately patterned wallpaper.
On Thursday and Friday evenings, the place can fill up, and you might have to wait 20 minutes or so to get a seat. The best time to go is during the daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., when you can get $4 rail drinks, wines and selected beers from the 22 drafts.
The food doesn’t get more complicated than cotton candy, so if you’re hungry, BYO carry-out from a nearby restaurant.
When you’ve exhausted the possibilities of Jenga and Life, ask for the menu of vintage board games collected from eBay bidding and antique market hunts. Mark Handwerger, a Board Room partner, says that such titles as Bride Bingo from the 1950s or What Shall I Be: The Exciting Game of Career Girls from the 1960s, in which a player can choose to grow up to be an airline hostess or model, have been popular for bachelorette parties. The vintage games run up to $10.
Handwerger plans regular tournaments for such games as Scrabble, Risk and chess. The first was a backgammon tournament Oct. 26, when the $12 entry fee included a refresher course on game strategy, 20 percent off drinks, free Flippin’ Pizza and prizes for the top two finishers.
Not everyone can win -- especially if you’re playing me at Don’t Break the Ice -- but after drinks and games at Board Room, you might feel like a champion.