A mish-mash of Doctor Who, Batman and Star Trek is not what you’d expect when walking through the doors of a restaurant, but it’s all there and more at Doin’ It Geek, a “Board game cafe” now open on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls.
Calling it a cafe is a bit of a misnomer, however, the establishment has a large selection of food items, all of which are named for famous characters and franchises. I will get to those in a moment.
Upon entering the big, familiar blue doors of a certain police box, you are faced with a Doctor Who quote: “In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important”. Clearly, this is a different kind of establishment. One that makes everyone feel welcome, that goes out of their way to make sure their guests and workers are treated well. The owners live by this motto, and I would think some of their intended clientele do, as well.
Entering the restaurant proper, I was immediately greeted by a young woman who gave me a choice on where to sit. Not normally a question I’d have to ponder, as the days of “smoking or non” are long behind us. However, this decision was guided by fandom. Do I sit in the Game of Thrones booth? The 8-bit video game booth? The Star Wars Cantina? Maybe the table decorated with the image of Goku and Freeza battling it out? I actually had to pause and think, before seeing a table covered in images and ads from old Atari games. That’s my kind of fandom!
The establishment itself is actually much like the TARDIS: bigger on the inside. The front makes it look small and unassuming, but the inside shows a much larger picture. It’s crammed to the gills with pop culture memorabilia, from pictures of Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown to Sonic the Hedgehog just chilling on a rafter with Iron Man’s helmet. I was told that the toilet in the men’s room was even designed to look like the famous throne from Game of Thrones.
I sit down and peruse the menu, for the most part just to see what references I can catch. A burger named after Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory pops out immediately, as does a burger named for Pulp Nation itself. How’s that for fame? I opted for something else that caught my eye, however. I started with an appetizer called “Johnny Be Good“, named for the song Marty sings in Back to the Future, consisting of two large pieces of corn bread and a heaping helping of baked beans. The corn bread was moist, yet crumbly, and had a pleasant sweetness to it that really went well with the beans.
As an entree, I chose the dish known as “Bake ‘Em Away, Toys“, a green pepper stuffed with beef, onion and gravy and topped with cheese, an interesting idea that I’m surprised I had never seen before. It also came with a side of fries, which for once was just the right amount. Most places I go to, when I order something with fries, give me a ton of them, leaving them to get cold and gross. Not here, they remained hot and crispy through the entire meal.
For dessert, I chose the Stay Puft Marshmallow Dip, an interesting sweet take on a bar favourite. Instead of sour cream, you get whipped cream. Instead of guacamole, you get chocolate. Instead of cheese, you get marshmallow. Instead of nachos, you get graham crackers. It’s very fun, and I will say that I did feel like I was eating a part of the famous Ghostbusters baddie with each bite.
With my meal finished, I turned my attention to the one part of the restaurant I haven’t talked about yet. On one wall, opposite my table, Sketchbook Comics had set up an array of board games and other merchandise for sale. The owners also have a selection of board games for demo, and encourage diners to play while eating, or while waiting for their food (though the wait is never too long).
As a final thought, I also want to mention that Doin’ It Geek is an equal opportunity employer, as some of the staff are on the autism spectrum. This does not hinder the business at all, and in fact is probably one of the reasons it works. I’ll support that until the day I die. After all, like the Doctor said, everyone is important.