Matchbox opened its first location in Washington, D.C., and quickly became known for brick oven pizzas, burgers, salads, and chef-inspired entrées, such as miso salmon and chimichurri steak fries.
Matchbox is growing rapidly with multiple restaurants in D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and at Sawgrass Mills, which opened in 2017. In April, the company opened its second Florida location just south of Himmarshee and west of Andrews in the trendy new WeLO (West of Las Olas) area.
The restaurant dishes up bistro fare in a casual setting. Additionally, there is a wide array of specialty cocktails (and mocktails), wine by the glass and bottle, as well as bottled and draft beers. Menu items are just as diverse, ranging from an impressive choice of appetizers to burgers, as well pizzas and notable entrees. What’s amazing, is that given the vast menu, everything arrives well prepared, if not always in a timely fashion. If you’re in the mood to chill out and relax, especially on the large patio facing the river right in the heart of downtown, the timing matters from the kitchen might not matter.
We settled in with drinks; a French martini that was perfectly mixed, but would have benefitted from a chilled glass, and a mocktail called the honey nutty which combined ginger beer and herbs — delish. We were seated just before seven, so we were able to order the potstickers off the happy hour menu. They were crispy outside with a sumptuous vegetable filling (a pork version is also available). We also decided to try the pizza as an appetizer and ordered the Fire & Smoke. It was delicious and as spicy as you’d expect. Maybe even more so. We doubled down on the spice and sampled the spicy tuna tartar. It was well prepared, but the spice obliterated the taste of the tuna.
The entree portion of the menu includes four salads, double that in seafood and meat, and a half-dozen sandwiches, and range in price from $20 for a burger to $58 for an enormous 20 oz. Porterhouse steak. Most entrees come with a pair of sides and sandwiches come with fries. My hubby is a sucker for a lobster roll, and he loved Matchbox’s version. While not packed as full as some others around town, it featured plenty of large pieces of claw and tail meat with just a light dressing of mayo. The porterhouse arrived practically hanging off the plate. It was so large; that I could only finish about a third of it. It was cooked just a tad past my medium-rare order but was so juicy and flavorful that I didn’t care. It came with wonderfully crispy smashed potatoes and sauteed broccolini. I also asked for a side of chimichurri, and it was the perfect accompaniment, garlicky and herbaceous.
Although our leftover cartons were piling up, the desserts were all so tempting we decided to throw caution (and waistbands) to the wind. The raspberry cheesecake had an interesting texture, a little thicker than standard cheesecake and not as sweet. It was delish. The budino brownie was a bit of a disappointment. I love budino (Italian pudding) and the thought of one studded with brownies and salted caramel sounded divine. I don’t know if they forgot the budino, or if they put it on top and it soaked into the hot brownie, but it couldn’t be found. The dish was basically a hot brownie topped with whipped cream. It wasn’t bad, but not what I expected. Service was delightful and friendly, although there were long gaps between courses, a problem in kitchen expediting and not our server.
Matchbox offers a chef’s table brunch buffet, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch-goers can indulge in unlimited food and beverage offerings for $34.95 per person and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. During social hour, Mondays through Fridays from 4-6 p.m. the restaurant offers appetizers for $6-$8 such as guac and chips, spinach artichoke dip, sliders, fried chicken bites, and pot stickers and $10 for select 10-inch pizzas. I’ll be returning for those potstickers and to chill out on the large patio.
Matchbox – Las Olas
221 SW 1st Ave., Fort Lauderdale
At Bona Italian, “Dine Before Dusk” from 4:30-6 p.m. share an appetizer, and each chooses from soup or salad and a choice of four entrees for $24.95 a person. Add a carafe of wine and a pair of mini cannoli for an additional $10.
The Palm Beach Human Rights Council’s annual pride happy hour will be held on Wednesday, June 15 at Meat Market, from 6 to 8 p.m. While the event is free, you must register to attend. pbchrc.org/events. Also save the date: the organization’s “Summer Soirée” will be on July 16.