’tis the season for new restaurant openings. In the last few weeks, DGS Delicatessen, Wildwood Kitchen, Hanoi House, Suna, and Woodward Table have all opened their doors. Joining this group is a new Matchbox on 14th Street. This is the fourth area location for Matchbox. And while this may put it into the category of a local chain, it has a very un- chain like feel, particularly when it comes to the interior design. (Here are some photos from EaterDC.)
The newest Matchbox is in a former auto showroom/bowling alley/nightclub. The space covers three floors and has a rustic feel, with lots of wood and exposed brick. That could describe any number of DC restaurants, but how many of them can say they have two tables floating in mid-air? I envy the diners that get to sit here.
I am a guest for a media preview, and my main objective is to experience menu items that are unique to the new location, particularly since I am a fairly frequent patron of Matchbox Rockville. Our server is eager to point out what’s new and different.
We begin with pizza, because when it comes down to it Matchbox brands is a “vintage pizza bistro.” My go-to at Matchbox Rockville is “Fire and Smoke.” I end up with a pizza that’s not new to Matchbox or unique to this location but it’s new to me. Veggie pizza with roasted garlic, pesto, oven-dried tomato, and artichokes appeals to me because well…. I love artichokes. Throw in a thin, crispy pizza crust and I’m a happy diner.
I stick with my original plan and select an entree that’s making it’s debut on 14th street. Braised beef short ribs with turmeric vegetables, fingerling potatoes, and coconut curry sauce catches my eye immediately. It’s a delightful dish! The meat is perfectly tender, and the creamy curry sauce is full of flavor. While I can’t finish every bite of the plentiful portion of beef, I do manage to eat all of my vegetables. The roasted vegetables coated with just a touch of the sauce are too good to leave behind. My Matchbox visits usually tend to more casual fare, so this dish really is a pleasant surprise.
My husband has chosen fish and chips. The panko crusted haddock is light and crunchy and the tartar relish, dotted with capers, is a creative touch. He finds the fries a bit too oily, but overall says the dish is quite tasty.
Butternut squash cheesecake with candied butternut squash and whipped cream is a lovely autumn dessert, and less guilt-inducing than a standard cheesecake. It’s the kind of dessert that can be enjoyed after more than a couple of bites, because it’s not overly sweet. I eagerly devour my half.
Matchbox is a nice addition to the burgeoning dining scene on the U Street Corridor. With a 25-foot bar, wine on tap, two pizza ovens, and eventual outdoor seating with a fire pit, I imagine that 14th Street will be a happening spot, matching the popularity of its other locations. As a suburbanite, I’m much more likely to stick to the Rockville location if I’m in a Matchbox mood. But then again, sitting at one of those floating tables could certainly provide an elevating experience.
Matchbox 14th Street, 1901 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC