Directions: Located inside the grounds of the Vietnam National Fine Art Museum (corner of Cao Ba Quat and Nguyen Thai Hoc)Phone: (+84) 37343098
143 Nguyen Tuan, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi
“Update: As promised, the website updates have gone into effect and look good. Given their communication with me after this review, as well as the quick follow-thru on their improvements, I happily revise my earlier 3 stars to 4 stars and also recommend them as a good option. original review...”
Well, this is a hard one to rate, after a mixed experience.
I was taking a friend out for diner to celebrate his birthday and had heard good things about this place, so thought I'd give it a whirl.
The 'experience' started with a phone call to the restaurant to book a table. the girl on the end of the phone said 'No, moved.' and then slammed the phone down on me. I rang back and she did the same. Hmm, did not bode well. I asked my friend to call as he speaks good Vietnamese. he managed to book a table, but said it was a struggle. Undettered, we went ahead with our plans...
On arrival at the restaurant, in its beautiful setting, we were greeted by a very friendly guy outside. The waitress then asked if we had booked a table, implying that if we hadn't, we were out of luck (the restaurant was empty). She then proceeded to sit us at a table with a filthy table cloth, not even bothering to point out that the upstairs area was far nicer (and had people in it).
We asked if we could see the upstairs when we realised it existed, and moved. This was a far superior room ro the downstairs and the table had a clean tablecloth - bonus!
My chair was very wobbly and I asked for one that was not broken. After trying almost all the chairs in the restaurant, the waiter finally found one that was slightly stable. I figured red wine + wonky chair was not a good move, so wanted one that was not going to collapse under me, but would allow me to collapse under it if I so desired.
We ordered gin and tonics - that basic and simple pre-dinner drink. The waiter took the order and then came back to tell us they did not have tonic. So we went straight into the wine, which they had, and at a reasonable price (shame the price tag was actually on the bottle as this is really inappropriate when treating someone to dinner!). The waiter then proceeded to attempt to pour the wine, but was so cautious about doing so, he was dripping it all over the table, bases of the glasses and floor. We procured the bottle of wone from him to prevent any more from being spilt.
I decided to have the lamb shanks - guess what? They didn't have them. At least I was told this while discussing what to eat, not after placing my order.
We placed our order, my friend ordering the meatball starter. The waiter duly went off and came back. Are you ready for it...yep, no meatballs.
Finally we managed to place our order and receive our food. I had the pho carpaccio (excellent) and beef fillet (cooked to perfection). My friend ordered smoked salmon (also great) and roasted salmon (ditto). Yep, two beef dishes for me and 2 salmon for him - it takes all sorts...
The food was not only good, but came quickly and the main courses were hot, unlike other places where your food feels like it has been sitting around for while and cooling down.
We finished by sharing a chocolate & raspberry mousse which was also delicious - in fact the plate was licked clean (not by me).
So, it was a comedy of errors type of a night. The food was excellent, but to be honest, any restaurant which can't out a clean tablecloth on the table should make alarm bells ring. The service was patchy, but always delivered with a beaming smile, so it wasn't for the lack of trying. The fact the waiters have FBI / Conran style earpices and walkie talkies seemed a little bit over the top for an empty restaurant, but caused some amusement.
The setting and the actual space is excellent. The building is very unusual and would be an excellent spot for a party. I particularly liked the tree growing through the middle of the restaurant.
It's a hard one to give a rating to because the night was so strange. The food would have got 5 stars, but everything else was a bit odd, so 3 instead.
I'm sad to say that I was really not impressed with my experience at The Matchbox last night. I haven't been there for years but gave it a go with a group of friends last night as it's near Bar Betta, where we were heading to later.
The problems were related to both the service and the food.
For food, we all opted to choose from the set menu, which had some tasty sounding dishes at a good price. Now maybe that was our mistake, but I would think that the dishes on a set menu would be the most popular hence perfected by the kitchen. But although the Caesar salad starter was fresh and tasty - despite it not being a Caesar salad dressing - the duck main was appalling. Yes, there was a huge mound of duck and it was tasty enough, but it was overcooked, the orange sauce was gloopy, the 'grilled potato' were chips and the asparagus was 2 thin strips criss-crossed over the pile of chips. Badly presented, not what was described and really uninspiring.
Service really was very poor, particularly related to the wine service. We ordered wine - when at last the drinks menu was presented - but they didn't have our first choice of red or white (the house). We then chose two other bottles, which they checked with us, but they then proceeded to bring over a succession of red wines (not even those we'd ordered) instead of the white wine. Eventually we went to the wine rack and took the correct bottle. White wine wasn't chilled so we asked for it to be chilled, which of course meant the red was also chilled ... glasses were topped up when we'd barely taken a sip and so on and so on. And they bought us the wrong person's food and stuff as well.
I know this isn't a particularly fancy place but it certainly ain't cheap -- especially if you don't go for the set -- so I'd expect the staff to be better trained that than.
I did have an enjoyable time, thanks to the company I was with, and the staff were polite and tried to be helpful, and the wine was good and not too pricey, but I wouldn't go back. Sorry Matchbox.
The new Matchbox is even better than the old one!
The setting, in the front garden of the National Fine Arts Museum, is just lovely, and much more central, and the interior has a better ambiance than at the old address. It now incorporates a wine bar, and so has stepped things up a notch on the classy-o-meter.
The menu has been changed and expanded. There are now more salads, which make a great lunch option (I had a puy lentil, pumpkin and pine nut salad, which was delicious and great value for 45,000), two kinds of burger and more mains. The pastas have also changed, although sadly they're now all spaghetti-based. The legendarily awesome vegetarian lasagne has also been retired but plenty of other vegetarian options remain, and all the new additions sound great.
The kitchen and floor staff have moved over from Nui Truc, and remain as friendly and professional as before. With these guys in charge I have every confidence that the quality in food and dining experience will carry over into the new incarnation.
They're not open for breakfasts anymore, which does break my breakfast-loving heart, but I'm pretty sure I can make do with sunny weekend lunches in a great setting, and a glass of wine, instead.
Open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Edit: The veggie lasagne has returned! And there are now other pasta options! Hooray!
The food was good, if not excellent; unfortunately we were the most delicious dish on offer as far as the mosquitoes were concerned. It was a beautiful evening so we dined outside rather than in the slightly stuffy interior and regretted it later. Remember to bathe in DEET before you go there if it's mosquito season and you prefer to eat outside.
There was a lot of redundant fussing around the table, removing and replacing plates, cutlery and glasses; this resulted in me having no cutlery at all with which to eat my main course and my friend losing the last mouthful of wine which she had saved to drink with her pudding.
She was gutted. Bad luck, Lori.
However the food was good enough to make it worth a visit, so we will eat there again, this time making sure that our hands are clamped to the wineglass-stems.
I used to regularly frequent this place and was a big fan, but when I became bored of the menu, I stopped coming on a regular basis.
However, I've been pretty disappointed with the food on my last two visits. My girlfriend ordered the lentil and roasted vegetable salad, which she used to love, but it was 90% lettuce and severely under-dressed. I had the stuffed chicken breast (200k) and I really wasn't happy with it. The combination of the cream cheese and vegetable stuffing didn't work at all, and the sauce was creamy but tasteless. Furthermore, the only other thing on the plate was a pile of greasy, unseasoned, crappy chips, when some simple vegetables would have been so much better.
The staff are still very friendly and the setting outside is lovely but the menu hasn't changed a bit in the last year, except for the prices being jacked up, which is quite lazy, considering how many exciting new places to eat are always opening in Hanoi.