On a cold, rainy day in Portland, OR, following a day-long conference in the city, I trekked across the Williamette River via the NW Broadway Bridge and proceeded along Williams Ave into the bucolic residential area of Eliot, with tree-lined streets, displaying their beautiful array of colors…red, orange, green, and gold. Along this quiet street, as the sun dipped below the horizon, the brightly-lit destination called to me as a beacon of warmth and fun.
From the moment you enter the Game Knight Lounge, if you’re a gamer, you’ll feel immediately at home. On your left is a series of bulging bookshelves, holding more than 400 games, from light-to-heavy and from traditional-to-designer titles filling the cafe’s library. Along the wall, just past the library is a gorgeously carved and well-stocked mirrored bar, offering beer, spirits, soda, and everything in-between. My boss and I were greeted immediately by Holly, the Happy Bartendress (is that a word?) who wore a sleeveless shirt and a beautiful smile. Within moments, I set-up a tab and sat at the bar to enjoy their fare and a game. We chose the bar because, as this was Friday night, the place was packed! Along the right side of the Game Knight Lounge were a series of high-top, pub tables and longer, lower tables toward the rear of the establishment. Everyone was having a great time…we heard laughter from folks playing a social deduction game, while further along, a small gathering discussed in hushed tones, how best to handle a global, medical crisis.
As my boss isn’t a gamer, I thought it best to introduce him to a game with a limited number of options. I walked over to the library and found Castles of Burgundy. Within about 10 minutes, I explained and set-up CoB. Then, we turned our attention to the menu. The three key elements, at least for me, when visiting a Board Game Cafe, include a wide variety of games, a friendly staff, and of course, the food. I had already checked the first two boxes in my mind within the first few minutes. I gazed at the menu and when Holly asked what I’d like, I half-jokingly said that I narrowed it down to a dozen items. While the menu is not extensive, you may be hard-pressed to find only one item to order. As I checked-out the plates coming out of the small kitchen located at the end of the bar or those adorning the tables near-by, I found that it only made my decision even more difficult. In the end, my boss ordered the soup and for me, the flatbread special. We jumped into the game and before long, we enjoyed the meal prepared by Law, the Game Knight Lounge’s chef. He creates the incredible menu and prepares all of the delicious meals with a critical eye for detail.
Over the course of the evening, we finished our game, enjoyed a few cups of coffee and engaged other member of the staff in conversation, including the two owners, Andrew and Chris. These two gentlemen are gamers’ gamers. They had been involved in local Meet-Ups for a considerable period of time and finally decided that they should make a go of creating a cafe…and moreover this amazing experience for others. This month, they celebrated their eighth month anniversary and I can only imagine for them a very bright future.
I returned the next day and was embraced by some of the folks, most notably Chad, Don, Wim, and Joey, who regularly attend the Saturday Meet-Up. They could not have been more kind and I jumped into a few games, including Crossfire and Splendor. Later, Joey and I had a chance to play 7 Wonders Duel, which I surprisingly won. While I enjoyed my Saturday afternoon with my Portland friends, I again sampled the wares…this time Law’s yummy harvest flatbread.
If you’re in the greater Portland, OR area and love great food and games, offered by a delightful cast of characters, you need to check out the Game Knight Lounge!