Mar 24 2011
Matchbox Restaurant used to be a cosy restaurant hidden away on Nui Truc; it was one of those places I always planned to visit but never quite made it to. Then it moved to the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum, upgrading its environment and planting it more firmly in tourist land.
The restaurant is now housed in a pretty villa, surrounded by the gardens of the Fine Arts Museum. Despite being next to a busy intersection this lends it a peaceful air, great for a lunchtime snack — before or after visiting the Fine Arts Museum or the nearby Temple of Literature – or a special evening meal.
I’ve yet to make it for lunch, but a range of lunchtime dishes, including salads and sandwiches, are on offer at prices that are very reasonable for the setting and location (50,000 to 80,000 dong). I’ll definitely be making an effort to visit for lunch soon, when the weather will make sitting outside enjoying a salad and a glass of wine a very addictive experience.
I have, however, been a few times so far in the evening and been very impressed. A wide range of pasta dishes sound tempting but I’ve stuck to the meat so far: lamb shank, duck confit, fillet steak. This isn’t gourmet cuisine but it’s reasonably priced, very well-cooked, very well-presented food in a pleasant environment. The staff are great too — friendly and, while not faultless, when they’ve made a mistake they’ve been very apologetic and charming. Some of the best in Hanoi I reckon.
It also positions itself as a wine bar and I could quite happily sit there just for a drink and some complementary peanuts. The wine list is extensive, with house wine starting at a reasonable 380,000VND a bottle, and a range of cocktails is also available.
The only downside is that it doesn’t get too busy. This can be a benefit — quick service, no need to book — but it also means it doesn’t have much of an atmosphere. So go with good company.
Last summer they had a jazz concert in the grounds, in aid of the Central Vietnam flood appeal. It was a really lovely evening so I hope they do more of that type of thing this year — I’ll let you know.
Matchbox Wine Bar and Restaurant
40 Cao Ba Quat Street, Ba Đình, Hanoi
T: (04) 3734 3098
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