- Address: 10A Edward Street, Toronto
- Visited: 02/12/2016, Event, 1 person
- Cuisine: Bar
- Rating: 3.5 5.0 Excellent, worth every $
4.5 Good, food & value
4.0 Good, but $$, would re-visit
3.5 Meh, good $, would re-visit
3.0 Meh, would not re-visit
2.0 Did not like $$ [$] <20; [$$] <40; [$$$] <80; [$$$$] >80
- Website: N/A
Since my previous visit, Roll Play has re-invented themselves from a board game cafe to a cozy bar/lounge. After a couple of years in the busy neighbourhood catering to a diverse range of customers, Roll Play’s owners felt the need to narrow their scope and redefine their brand. Even during my first visit, I felt that board games were a side attraction at the “cafe”, which focused more on food and alcohol. I was invited to speak to the owners and check out the changes.
Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.
Sitting down with the owners of Roll Play, I gathered that the biggest driver for their evolution was a desire to better serve their customers. This was a challenge when their reputation as a board game cafe drew a unique crow, who wasn’t necessarily drawn by the food or drinks menu. Today, while there’s still a few party games around (Pictionary, Uno, and lots of dice), Roll Play’s makeover, along with their selection of tasty cocktails, has definitively shifted them into the bar category.
Much of the decor was familiar, with a heavy injection of Asian flair drawing on inspiration from bars in Hong Kong. The room glowed a warm red from string lights strung on the ceiling and red paper lanterns. Pop art featuring the Chinese character for “love” decorated one wall and a large TV showing Chinese movies was mounted on another. I found the space charming and unique.
Reading through the list of Asian inspired cocktails, I had a hard time deciding but ended up ordering the Geisha. My drink had green tea, cucumber infused vodka and a hint of yuzu, all of my favourite things. Another drink that caught my eye was the King of Toronto, which was served under a dome of dome of smoke and used maple infused Canadian Club. What makes these drinks special is Roll Play’s use of mixology, led by bartender Berry Sit, who’s worked in some of Hong Kong’s top bars. Sit creates all of his own liquor infusions in-house, which ranged from rose buds to ginseng.
I didn’t have a chance to really dig into the food menu except for the Peking Duck Flatbread, which has a hoisin sauce base was and topped with cucumber slices after baking. This added a refreshing crunch to each savoury bite. Other items on the menu had the same East meets West concept like Beef Brisket Poutine and Five Spice Popcorn Chicken. The one thing I’m unsure of is value vs price for the snacks.
Roll Play Bar aims to be a place for people to gather, socialize and dip their toes in Asian bar culture. Menus change seasonally and are still under development. I think Roll Play’s new direction suits them very well and am looking forward to where it takes them.