Café Review: Échec & Malt, Gatineau, QC

Where we played: Échec & Malt, Gatineau, QC

When we played: May 2015

Échec & Malt, a pub ludique in downtown Gatineau, QC, hosted us on a Thursday night in May this summer. The first thing we noticed about the café as we arrived was the huge terraceIMG_1284 (or patio for you non-Quebecers) that was very tempting on the beautiful sunny day. We chose to sit inside because of the concern EM-logo-webfor the wind picking up and blowing away some important piece of our game. Lucky for us, the inside was well designed and comfortable, and we took a seat at a big table in the front of the pub.

We were immediately greeted by a friendly server carrying an impressively large beer menu (our favourite kind of menu). We picked out our drafts and went to peruse the game library, as tradition dictates. The game collection had some interesting choices (we were excited to see Twilight Struggle on the shelves) but wasn’t very well organized.

IMG_1279Échec & Malt has one of those liquor licences that only allows them to sell you alcohol if you are also having food, but their menu has lots of small, inexpensive options that help you meet that requirement. We ordered the charcuterie plate (another standard of ours), planning to share it, but discovered on arrival it was more of a personal sized plate! We ended up trying their nachos, and a sandwich, and it was all satisfactory if not very memorable. The beer, on the other hand, was fantastic!

The staff was very friendly, and eager to help us pick out food and drink choices, as well as games. They had a few designated gurus wandering around who were happy to help us pick a game, or explain the rules – in either French or English! We saw them testing out the games at the bar while it was quiet, which we think is great as a guru who has actually played the game is always much better IMG_1280at explaining. The staff also won favour with us by letting us stay an extra 30 minutes past closing to finish up our session of Lords of Waterdeep.

Overall, Échec & Malt was a very cool pub to hang out and play some games. They had clearly put a lot of thought into the pub, with large group areas for playing, cool game themed lighting and décor, and even epic movie soundtrack scores playing in the background .

PWP Ranking:
Space: B+
Collection: B –
Food: C
Drink: A
Staff: B+
Look and Feel: B+
Overall Score: B+

Other Stuff we like:
Retail: Nope
Flat Fee: Yep!
Events: Yep!

Great for: Trying out some new beer and a new game after dinner, even in a large group.

What we played: Lords of Waterdeep, Elasund, Cosmic Encounter


Ellie Frederickson is an experienced player of many board games and has cred as a purveyor of games from a time working in a game store. She has an inclination towards Euro-style games, but isn’t especially picky. Reading rules is a particular skill of hers (and a source of enjoyment, oddly enough) and she usually gets a game right the first time she plays it. She has a keen eye for good designs; in art, cafés and games; and an aversion to sub-standard food and drink

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