I'm not really sure how to classify Matchbox. They have a menu similar to Chef Geoff's or Cafe Deluxe, but maybe a little fancier -- and then they have pizza. There's ALWAYS a crowd and people tend to make a big deal about the place. I went there at 2:30 on a Saturday and I still waited 20 minutes for a table -- it must be the location. The MCI Center is the ideal area for a restaurant like Matchbox, where you can get a wide variety of dishes that satisfy everyone in your crowd. (Although Matchbox isn't great for seating a large crowd.)
The layout of the restaurant takes full advantage of its location in a thin row house. Downstairs, you have the bar and pizza oven, which take up most of the first floor. The second and third floor are where the tables are. Overall, the restaurant can only hold a mere 59 people according to the Fire Marshal.
Our hostess was very helpful. We were there with Noah, and she was very interested in both him and Amy. How old is he? How are you feeling? We get that just about every place we take him too, and who can blame them? He's a beautiful baby. The hostess was able to get us a table for four, which was nice because we could put Noah's carrier in a chair while we ate.
We had some of the infamous mini burgers. They come in batches of three, six, and nine for $7, $11, and $14 respectively. They're worth every penny in my opinion. The brioche buns are coated in about a quarter stick of butter each. The burgers are made with what seemed to be fresh Angus beef and topped with pickles and cheese (if you like). I could do without the mountain of onions strings, which seem like filler and are more of a distraction than anything else. I think the next time I go to Matchbox, I'll get two orders of the nine mini burgers.
To soak up some of the grease, we had a salad as well. The Bistro Salad was mixed greens with pear and toasted bread topped with goat cheese. We only ordered a half portion for $7, but it was plenty after the burgers. I rather liked the method of having a full piece of toast (rather than little croutons), buttered and toasted, and then topped with the goat cheese. It allowed you to tear off pieces of the "crouton" and mix it with the salad. The goat cheese was tangy like it should be and went well with the sweet vinaigrette.
For the big finale, we had the Matchbox Meat pizza. It came topped with tiny pepperoni, bacon and a spicy Italian sausage. While the toppings were fresh and flavorful, I wasn't all too crazy about the crust, which was weak and bland. Pizza, for me at least, is all about the crust. If the crust doesn't rise at the edges, there's something wrong with it. Also, the cheese and sauce went all the way to the edge of the crust. Eh.
I also have to note that the bar at Matchbox serves Magic Hat #9 on tap which gives it huge points. I know it's not the only place that has it on tap in the area, but still it's a great beer.
I think I'll be back to Matchbox the next time I'm over by the MCI Center. The mini burgers are worth the trip alone and I'd like to try some of their entrees rather than the pizza.
713 H St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Open Monday through Friday, 11:00 AM - Close
Saturday 12:00 PM - Close (no clue what "Close" means. This is what the web site says.)
Dress Code: Casual
Smoking: Allowed at the bar
Closest Metro: Metro Center
Parking: There's not very good street parking in the area and there's no valet. Take the Metro.
Reservations: Not taken.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 3 out of 4 diapers. The stairs make for a difficult trek with the baby carrier and stroller, but the hostess made up for this with how accommodating she was.
You'll notice the new baby-friendly rating which is my diaper scale. No, this doesn't count the number of times we have to change Noah's diaper at the restaurant. It's just my ranking of how accommodating I think a place is for people with a baby.