Sunday, May 4, 2014

Matchbox Food Review

Mini Burgers with Onion Straws

It ain't easy finding a seat at any one of the five local Matchbox vintage pizza bistros. Whether it's early or late, count on some kind of wait to get in. Me? I lucked out in snagging a table near the bar on a Sunday night, just after 6:00 PM. Housed inside a majestic building near the corner of 14th & U Streets, NW, Matchbox is wildly popular (and deservedly so.) As always, the food impressed; but would it be enough to overlook a hard-to-find server? Read on.

One of several hostesses took me to my seat; yet made sort of a big deal of my eating alone. I initially asked for a table for one; but she seem surprised when we got to the table, asking loudly, "Just one?" No worries... I was here on a mission, which I explained to server Luis. I had an opening night show to attend at the nearby Source; and needed to devour an appetizer and pizza before a 7:00 curtain. "No problem," replied Luis, who couldn't have been more friendly. I ordered 3 Mini Burgers with Onion Straws ($10) and a small Sausage and Onion Pizza ($15) no soda, just water; and asked for my food to come out when ready (no time for leisurely splitting.)

Small Sausage and Onion Pizza

As you can imagine, it was a full house; and there was no shortage of noise. For starters, the bar area was pumping out loud, techno music (hey guys, it's only 6, not 10:00 PM) and the table next to me had two 30-something chicks cackling non-stop for the duration of my stay (in between gross sniffles and snorts, that cried out for Kleenex.) In case you're curious, both women can't understand why the men in their lives won't commit to them... Hmm, I can. Outside of the noise, you'd be hard pressed to find a more lively atmosphere. No shortage of buzz, that's for sure. Lacquered tables are clean and roomy, paired with surprisingly comfortable stools. Worth noting, my table wobbled like the Titanic... requiring a steady grip throughout dinner. That's an easy fix, and something that should have been detected before service.

Food arrived relatively quickly and simultaneously. Matchbox's popular mini burgers came topped with a ton of onion straws. The burgers are cute, and disappeared quickly (two bites each, tops) and the straws were amazing. I asked for MEDIUM, but all three were delivered MEDIUM-WELL to WELL-DONE. Still, each one remained nice & juicy. I prefer a whole burger, but if you're not eating alone... this is a must-order.

A small pie measures 10" and is in a word... fantastic! Crispy and thin, it's well-cooked and covered in sausage. Very little cheese, and even less onions and red peppers (one strip per slice) but the sausage makes you ignore any perceived shortcomings. It's pricey ($15 for a small, $23 for a large) so I'd prefer a few more toppings, but the sausage... Oh, the sausage. I devoured the whole thing... even without a refill of water.

That brings me back to my server, who disappeared after checking in one last time after a runner dropped off my food. Leaving a thirsty customer, so close to the bar is a big no-no; but not as bad as failing to provide a check, when you know said customer is on a tight time limit. I looked in vain for almost 10 minutes; before breaking down, and walking over to the hostess station. I was able to get out with literally four minutes to spare. I was so annoyed, I actually left less than a 20% tip (which almost never happens.)

Final thoughts? Great food (once again) and one of the 10 best pizzas in town. Spotty service, and loud for dinner. Would I wait 30 minutes to get in? Probably not, but there's no arguing with the food... and one of the nicer looking spaces east of Dupont Circle.

Atmosphere: B (Beautiful to look at, but very noisy.)
Burgers: B- (Slightly overdone, but tasty all the same.)
Onion Straws: B+ (Forget fries... onion straws rock!)
Pizza: B+ (Knock-out sausage, and perfectly cooked.)
Value: B- (Definitely not cheap... bordering on expensive.)
Overall: B- (More than a few snags, but great food is a powerful neutralizer.)