The Board Room is a real game-changer for bars in the DMV. Instead of hearing discussions about what the government has — or hasn’t — done lately, you hear:
“Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with a wrench.”
“Hit and sunk.”
“With a hotel on Park Place, that’s $300.”
The idea at the Board Room, a theme bar with locations in D.C. and Arlington, is that only childhood classics such as Trouble, Clue and Monopoly can rival the allure of social media. They have a full selection of games on hand, or you can bring your own.
As manager Jamie Walther puts it, “We wanted people to put down their smartphones and interact and have fun playing games together.”
It’s working, and not just for the expected millennial hipster crowd, Walther said. Gen-Xers and older crowds also enjoy traditional games on weeknights, and parents bring kids in for family entertainment during the day.
At 9 on a recent Saturday night, the three spacious rooms at the Arlington Boardroom were packed with lively groups gathered around tables playing Risk, Yahtzee and poker. The din of animated conversation rose just above the soft fusion jazz, with the occasional squeals and shouts that go along with a lucky roll of the dice. TV screens over the bars are all but ignored and no one was using a smartphone.
With its Gatsby-esque décor, full kitchen and brewery, the newer Arlington location is “billiard room” to Dupont Circle’s more informal “pool halls.” Opened in November 2017, Board Room Arlington is testament to the success of the DC location, which opened in 2012. A dramatic chandelier made of red dice adorns the main entrance.
Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge is the most elegant of the rooms, a rich cobalt blue with cream curtains and small white globe light fixtures. Pink-lit champagne bottles in shiny buckets sit on the mirrored bar — a bar you will become well-acquainted with if you arrive after 8 on Saturday night as my party did. If you want a table, I strongly recommend getting there by 6 p.m.
Fortunately, the cushioned stools were as soft as sofas and the staff was friendly and accommodating. Bartender Mladen Stojilkovic, originally from Serbia, gave us a dining menu, which features more casual American cuisine than the brunch menu. After about a half hour, a small group of card sharks left with their winnings and let us take their place at a four top.
Stojilkovic recommended an Italian pinot grigio (Bertani, Velante) at $8 a glass. The wine was mellow and fruity without that sour aftertaste whites sometimes have. It went well with my choice of the veggie flatbread, a generous portion covered in crème fraiche and toasted perfectly with a light sprinkling of mushrooms and caramelized onions. For $10, I was stuffed.
Wine connoisseurs and craft beer enthusiasts Coco and Marc Piard of Reston were appreciative of the selection. Coco ordered the Boardroom brew Operation Citra (5.7%, 40 IBU) for $5. She said it was balanced and citrusy. Her husband Marc had a Battleship IPA (7.5% 75 IBO), brewed in nearby Warrenton, for $7. He described it as “bitter and hoppy with citrus notes.” My own favorite was a cocktail my guest Evita Belmonte ordered and let me sip, a S*M*A*S*H, which was named for a game. The concoction of Bulleit bourbon, peach liqueur, lemon, mint and simple syrup had a comfortable blend of sweet and savory with an unpredictable herb-y finish.
Coco also enjoyed the shrimp po’ boy Stojilkovic recommended — lightly fried shrimp, cheddar cheese, coleslaw and aioli on a brioche bun, with an accompaniment of fries.
“I know my fries, and I can tell the fries are very fresh. This is definitely not freezer food,” she said.
The Board Room(s) encourage reservations. Bocce and dart teams compete on Tournament Tuesdays, and each location is also are available for private parties and special events.
This Thursday, Jan. 24, the Board Room is hosting a special event open to the public, Bourbon and Bubbles, in Ms. Peacock’s Lounge at 7:30 p.m.
Head out to the Board Room in Arlington or Dupont Circle, and play like it’s 1972 again.