Val and I have birthdays that are 7 days apart, so we normally wind up celebrating a birthday week, having various dinners, cakes, presents, etc throughout the week with friends and family. This year’s birthday week was a bit more low key – not 73 different types of beer at Brickskeller – but fun all the same. After going to Central Michel Richard earlier in the week for Val’s birthday, I wanted to go to the DCist Exposed gallery followed by diner at Matchbox – both of which are in Chinatown.
Located a half block from the Chinatown metro stop and the Verizon Center, Matchbox is an American restaurant best known for their wood oven pizza, 3 / 6 / 9, and a good selection of beer and wine. Aside from really good pizza, one of the things I liked about Matchbox during my first visit a few years ago was the intimate atmosphere. Squished into an old townhouse that was renovated into the current restaurant (see the back of their menu for the full story, including the tree that was growing in the building), Matchbox’s interior sports rich woods and cozy seating spread across 3 floors.
Matchbox doesn’t take reservations, so expect to wait at least a few minutes if not longer during peak hours. For my birthday dinner, our friends Matt and Marisa joined us. It was Sunday about 6pm, and we had to wait just enough time to buy a round of beers at the downstairs bar. Our host guided us to our table, passing through a dining room adjacent to the origional downstairs dining room I knew, and up a flight of stairs, through another dining room, and into yet another dining room. I feel like Matchbox expanded since I was last there, but maybe I just didn’t take the full tour. We were seated in a 6 seater booth – lots of room – with some spot accent lighting and matchbooks shadowboxed into the table.
We decided to split a few dishes, so everyone could enjoy. We order a 9 version of the 3 / 6 / 9, that 9 mini burgers with a mound of well seasoned onion strings. We had an option of blue, gounda, or america cheese, and decided to get an equal distribution of each. Matt and Marisa also really wanted to try the duck salad on special, so we order one of those as well. The burger were tasty, certainly not hurt by the mini brioche buns sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Anything is better on a brioche roll! The duck salad was also very good; I think we cleaned both plates.
Somewhere in here, we ordered more beer. I don’t remember who got what; however, Matchbox has a pretty good selection, so that’s all you need to know. For mains we ordered two pizzas, a large sausage sun dried tomato with balsamic vinegar and arugula, and a small spicy meatball. The sausage pizza was excellent, having a nice balance between the creaminess of the cheese, the spiciness of the sausage , and the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar. The spicy meatball pizza was also very good, although very spicy indeed. After finishing our beers, we headed down the street to Tangy Sweet, one of the many yogurt joints that hit the DC scene last year. My yogurt was very yummy, but they were out of Fruity Pebbles. How do you run out of fruit pebbles?