Matchbox Officially Opens in Former Hen Quarter Space

Matchbox Silver Spring officially opened today (April 5) at 919 Ellsworth Dr. in the space formerly occupied by Hen Quarter.

The menu features the company’s legacy wood-fired pizzas, mini-burgers and salads—“our historical fan favorites,” as Jim Drost, the company’s culinary director put it—alongside new additions.

“I wanted to make sure those [favorites] were still available, but with the new items, I was trying to hit a couple of spots where I thought there was a space for us to get something into the menu that was a little bit different and unique, “ he continued.

One example is the “ginormous meatball,” which has been a popular appetizer, but now is available as an entrée with herbed spaghetti. Other additions include a blackened chicken and kale bowl with farro, marinated tomatoes, carrots, avocado, and mango vinaigrette; lobster diavolo pizza with spicy lobster cream sauce, seasoned tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella; and short-rib rigatoni with carmelized onions, cremini mushrooms, spinach, tomato and marsala cream sauce.

Often, new menu ideas come from chefs in other company restaurants. For example, the concept for a new crab and sweet corn pizza came from the chef at the Merrifield, Va. location.

“We worked on it together, a lot of collaboration time, featured it, got some guest feedback, tweaked it, and then finally, I presented [it] to my boss,” Drost said.

Popular dishes, other than mini-burgers and pizza, include a fried chicken Cobb salad, seasonal salmon dishes, and the crispy half chicken (which Drost said takes three days to make, including brining for 24 hours, giving it an herb rub before roasting, then deep frying the bird just before serving).

The Silver Spring location is the first to get a separate lunch menu, which offers a greater variety of sandwiches and burgers.

The dinner menu has more entrées, including a larger filet mignon than the lunch offering, a crab cake entrée (as opposed to a sandwich), the previously mentioned rigatoni and others.

On weekends, customers can order the “Brunchbox,” which includes unlimited sweet and savory small plates for $28.50, and mimosas, peach bellinis and bloody marys for $3 each (with Brunchbox purchase).

The general layout of the restaurant has changed little since it was an Austin Grill outlet. The décor now leans to an industrial look, with textures like metal mesh and black tile.The reclaimed wood has also been painted black.

The principal change is the addition of the pizza oven. In addition, one row of banquettes was removed and replaced with counter seating so customers have a view of the oven and the open kitchen.

This is Matchbox’s second location in the county, joining Rockville, with a Bethesda location planned for later this year.

Hours of operation will be 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. on Sunday. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends, and there’s a happy hour menu from 3-7 p.m. on weekdays.

Top photo, Jim Drost works the wood-fired pizza oven (photo by Mike Diegel). Below, April’s monthly special entrée, seared scallops over creamed corn with wood-fired cremona mushrooms (photo by Deb Lindsey courtesy Matchbox).

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