Like any good American, I love beer and pizza. Matchbox, with locations in Chinatown and Capitol Hill, is great at both—delish pizza, solid, good ol’ American cuisine, and a great beer selection. Therefore, it was easy enough to convince beau to stop by Matchbox for brunch, to stuff ourselves silly with bad-for-you food, even after doing so for five straight days over Thanksgiving. (Waistline, be damned).
At the Capitol Hill location, we were promptly greeted and shown to a table, despite the restaurant being rather packed. The ambiance was lively and light, and a charming band played Christmas carols and oldies tunes to accompany brunch. Our waiter, who was mighty handsome, was pleasant and competent, albeit rather busy.
In addition to an extensive beer selection, Matchbox has a solid list of brunch beverages, with six Bloody Mary variations and five mimosa options. I selected the Matchbox Mimosa with orange juice, champagne, Patron Citronge, orange wheel and a fresh strawberry. This concoction was festive, flavorful, and strong. (Good thing I wasn’t driving!)
We started out with an order of the cast-iron baked cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, a great deal for a whole pan of them for $6. However, the rolls were undercooked and mushy—they needed about five more minutes in the oven. They lacked sufficient cinnamon flavor, which may have been a result of the mushiness. The cream cheese icing was delicious, but there wasn’t enough of it. I’d rather get a roll of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from the grocery store for $2 and do it myself.
Matchbox has lots of creative brunch options, such as a bloody mary burger, banana bread French toast, stuffed French toast, prosciutto and a gruyere waffle sandwich. Beau, always the difficult one (whoopie pies over cupcakes, lunch over brunch) ordered a vegetable pizza. He claims he was sticking to Matchbox’s signature items—beer and pizza (which turned out to be a smart decision).
The vegetable pizza was delicious—loaded with mushrooms, onions, peppers, herbs and potato crisps. I, however, would have liked to see more vegetable options—peppers and onions are just OK, and since when do potato chips count as a vegetable?
I ordered the cast iron smoked salmon and eggs, served with grilled ciabatta with garlic butter and fingerling potatoes. The waiter was happy to substitute a side salad for the fingerling potatoes (I’d been eating mashed potatoes for five days and needed something green) despite the fact that the menu said no substitutions. The side salad was delightful—just what I wanted—fluffy fresh mixed greens, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and topped with a Parmesan crisp.
Now, on to the salmon and eggs, which was actually more a smidge of salmon in a sea of eggs served sunny-side up. So many eggs, so little bread and salmon. I’m a bread fiend, and, on the menu, the warm ciabatta toasted with garlic butter sounded absolutely divine. In reality, the bread was cold, lacked garlic flavor, and there wasn’t enough of it. (And, yes, I just judged the bread).
Similarly, the smoked salmon was fresh and delicious, and it had cream cheese, onions and capers folded inside the salmon (a salmon surprise when unrolled!). I just wish there was more of it—I had about five bites of salmon+ accoutrements+bread+eggs and then all I was left with a vat of runny, slimy eggs in excess.
The Bitches say: C+. Matchbox should stick to what they know—pizza, beer, and drinks. The brunch dishes we sampled, while fresh and edible, were poorly prepared. Perhaps the chef was having a bad day? I’d be willing to go back and give them another chance—as the menu had lots of options. Jazz band was a nice touch.
Matchbox Capitol Hill
521 8th St. S.E.
713 H St. N.W.