The Hunger Games

Preface: Been around for a decade now, this board games café in Toronto, Canada, still attracts hundreds every day, but is it because of their food? Think again!

Often when we think of stepping out for a dining experience, we end up zeroing in on our go-to neighborhood restaurants. However, this assignment meant more than just trying out a culinary thoroughfare. We made our way to the Snakes And Lattes Annex- a board game themed cafe on Bloor Street, Ontario, Canada on a Friday afternoon. Having spent an evening at the College Street nearby, there was an opportunity to expand on the memorable experience.

Don’t get fooled by the humble façade (in muted green and tiny doodles); it barely does justice to what awaits us on the other side. At Prima facie, the ambient space is humongous and resembles a well-stocked library; although, there’s a catch: the wooden racks are stocked with games instead of books.

From crowd pleasers (Jenga and Monopoly) and party favorites (Cards Against Humanity and Pictionary) to obscure and never-heard-of titles (Karuba and Cacao), this is a treasure trove for unplugged gamers.
Incentive: they have crew members who know the rules of every game, and if required, can join you for a game or two.

Our host gave us a brief tour of the decade-old establishment before finding us an empty table. Minimal walls (a couple of brick walls too) and very ordinary tables and chairs make it stand out in the milling crowd of fancy eateries. On a Friday afternoon, it was buzzing like any Subway station during peak hours.

We face a Hamlet-esque dilemma: to plunge into the games or not; we decide to reach for the menu which is limited and easy to browse.

We attempted to start with their Spicy Caesar (10.50$). This Canadian classic had vodka mixed with clam and tomato juice garnished with a lime wedge.  The dash of Tabasco and celery salt was on point and set the mood just right.

The Spicy Ceasar -vodka mixed with clam and tomato juice garnished with a lime wedge

We didn’t take long to place the rest of the order: Butter Chicken with Naan (12$), Soba Noodles Salad (10$) and Roasted Veggies Wrap and Soup (17$)Although we were assured a 20-minute wait, it took almost 40 minutes and some rounds of Pictionary, before the food started to arrive.

The Roasted Veggies Wrap was served with a vegetable broth-like curry. The plates jostled with the board for space on the table; we took a break from the game. The creamy mayonnaise and Cheddar melted well without oozing out of the wrap. They had somehow miraculously managed to pack in loads – mushrooms, pickles, peppers, olives, tomatoes, and onions. The soup was, at best, a thicker version of Mulligatawny.


Soba Noodle Salad

Another 20 minutes passed before we could try the rather forgettable Soba Noodle Salad. The salad had more peanuts than noodles in it, and it was literally drowning in sesame oil.

Butter Chicken And Naan

But then, the star of the afternoon finally showed up – Butter Chicken and Naan.  If you don’t mind some spicy Indian curry, this is probably the must-have dish on their menu; we ordered a second plate of it.

Soon after, some flies were spotted hovering around our table. And the server came with the bill at a glacial pace. We were in for a shock: what used to be a five-dollar admission charge to play unlimited games has now become eight dollars per individual.

With the whopping tax and gratuity added, the bill was just shy of a 100$. Well, we learned our lesson: do visit Snakes and Lattes, only with a full stomach and at least a few hours to make the most of the admission fee. And next time you’re around, in case you need a serious competition for Taboo, do contact me!

About the Authour: Arundhati Chatterjee is an ex-journalist with The Hindustan Times and HT Brunch, Mumbai. Her roots are from Kolkata but she’s been brought up in Mumbai and could regularly be spotted enjoying plays at the Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. She’s currently pursuing her Higher Education in Toronto, Canada; and loves calling herself a part-time writer, and a full-time dreamer.

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