Board Exeter proudly boasts the accolade of being the South West’s first board game café/bar – a place for young, old and everyone in between to come and enjoy all kinds of games accompanied by signature dishes, freshly made shakes and on-trend craft beers.

Easily accessible from the centre of Exeter, Board sits just off the High Street which keeps it in the heart of the city, but tucked just out of the way so as not to be disturbed by those looking for a heavier night out.

So how does it work? You pay a £5 table fee on arrival (under 16s pay just £3.50 while students pay £4) which gives you full access to all of the games and secures your table for a minimum of three hours. You can even get yourself a Board membership which reduces the table fee down to £3 and gives you 10% off all food & drink! Pre-booking a table is possible but not required, but if you want peace of mind then it’s always worthwhile. Fridays and Saturdays are particularly popular due to the later closing time of midnight which allows you to really get stuck into your game of choice.

At Board your waiter is also your game guru. If you’re looking to play something new, the gurus are more than happy to help point you in the right direction. They’ll give you recommendations based on games that you already enjoy playing or the style of game you’re looking to try out. With over 300 games stocked it’s more than impressive to see the extent of game knowledge they have and, coupled with their enthusiasm, makes for a quick setup time so that you’ve got the rules down and you’re playing in no time.

We started out with Rhino Hero – a simple but fun starter game where you take it in turns to create a precariously balanced tower, using foldable cards, where the positioning is dictated by a randomly selected card from the pack. This helped get us in the mood while we enjoyed a thick, freshly made milkshake served stylishly in a Kilner jar (£3.95). The peanut butter chocolate milkshake is my go-to drink for these kind of nights and it didn’t disappoint. You can even add a shot of your favourite spirit to make it a hardshake, something I’ll certainly be trying next time!

Hungry gamers will be impressed by the menu which offers a good selection of food and drink with a number of items catering to vegans and those who are gluten free if required. Featuring burgers and sandwiches, sharing platters and sides as well as salads, snacks and desserts, there is plenty to choose from to satisfy your cravings. Plenty of serviettes are provided to avoid sticky fingers on the games and a respect for keeping everything clean seems to be something that just goes without saying. The tables also have a discreet shelf underneath, so that there is plenty of room to fit everything in so that you can continue playing uninterrupted.

We chose the Spicy Fried Chicken Burger (£6.95) and the Harissa Chicken Flatbread (£8.50) as we tried our next game. Both were served in metal buckets with greaseproof paper for a trendy serving style. The Pulled Pork Cheese Fries (£6.95) were the star of the menu for me and will easily serve two as a sharing side – crispy salted fries with tender melt in the mouth pulled pork covered in rich BBQ sauce. Although both meals were delicious, at Board it seems only right that the games take centre stage – I continued to enjoy the fries while figuring out my next moves to beat my opponent!

The diverse mix of people that return time and time again is what makes Board extra special. Board brings students, families, couples and friends together, some deep in a multi-hour strategy game, poring over their cards, while others laugh and chatter over classics such as Guess Who or Monopoly. Although diverse, these people all come to Board with one thing in common: they want to have fun over a drink, a bite to eat, and most importantly a game.

Words: Jake Tucker
Images: Jake Tucker & Board

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