Notes From the Field: Matchbox Rockville

Our critics give new restaurants a quick look and report back with their first impressions.

The Rockville outpost of Matchbox is the third iteration of the local chain and easily the biggest. It’s an impressive space, with a ceiling that appears to go on forever, handsome brick walls, multiple fireplaces, and on occasion a jazz band playing in the front room. The smells coming from the open grill are just as inviting.

A recent drop-by began promisingly: a perfectly executed plate of the restaurant’s signature mini-burgers and a superlative salad, with pink-grapefruit segments, local goat cheese, and Marcona almonds nestled among delicate, vividly fresh leaves of green-oak lettuce. The wine list is a good effort for an operation that doesn’t aspire to fine dining, and a friend and I settled in for what promised to be a nice weekend afternoon of good food and live music.

But everything after that (a pasty crabcake sandwich, an overly cheesy, floppy-crusted pizza, a gelato sandwich that tasted more like ice cream) smacked of a bigger, more impersonal chain.

Matchbox Rockville, 1699 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-816-0369. Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch, lunch, and dinner.


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