While Pi might claim supremacy as the centre of cafe chess on St. Laurent, Chimera is laying down the gauntlet for RPG (that’s role playing games, you newbs!). Oh, and add to that Monopoly, Scrabble, and Bananagrams and a host of table games. Make no mistake, though, the place isn’t just about rolling a 12-sided die. Like its namesake lion and goat-headed beast, this space has multiple identities. The owners turned the front half into a cafe, the back half into a shop, and coffee and games migrate between the two.
As a cafe, Chimera is a win. The cafe owners made a point of sourcing great coffee from local Montreal roaster Kittel and Calgary’s Phil and Sebastian. Both are highly recommended! Fancier coffee drinks on offer stick to the basics — espressos and cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos. Teas come from Thé Kiosk. The pastry case is stocked with a selection of delishes from Sweet Lee’s.
Gamers know what makes for a good space to work and concentrate, but one need not be a geek or a gamer to enter here. In fact, while drinking my own cup, a group of girls — not gamer types as far as I could tell — meandered in with their textbooks to study, or at least pretend to study. Chimera is ideal for a person who wants a peaceful place to zone or laptop out. The space is very open and airy, with a light-colored-wood octogonal theme. Even the tables are octagons, allowing them to be joined into a super-polygon by the very enterprising. Pendant lights hang from overhead at regular intervals, so the ambiance is neither too bright nor too dim. Plugs are tucked away but abundant, allowing computer users like myself to recharge. Ile Sans Fil provides free wifi.
Staff is friendly and well informed about the coffees on offer. There’s much to appreciate here with a self-serve water cooler full of lemons and limes. I’m handed a loyalty card without even asking for one. The sweetener section has agave syrup alongside the usual brown sugar/sugar syrup/artificial sweeteners. Music is kept at a low and unobtrusive adult contemporary, though the wide open space lets voices echo. If crowded, it could get loud.
However, I’d only be telling half the story if I didn’t point out that this multi-purpose cafe is also designed for gaming. Two bookcases requiring ladders to reach their upper shelves groan with games. The back of the cafe opens up into a separate room containing Chimera’s early incarnation — a gaming store with a supply of favorites, obscurities, Magic the Gathering cards, and things of this ilk. In the basement is an event room used for weekly game nights, but I’m told the intent is to house many different kind of events, including yoga classes. Each week, there are weekly meetings for gamers: Wednesday night Heroclix Invincible Ironman, a Thursday night Commander Magic and a Friday night Magic.
Chimera is located at 5768 Sherbrooke St W. Monday, Tuesday 12-7 p.m. Wednesday – Friday 12 – 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. Coffee $2/2.50. Espresso $2.50. Latte $4.25. Tea $2.75/3.