The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Ann Arbor Eats – Cafe Felix

Café Felix is the first restaurant I’ve ever been to in Ann Arbor, when we first visited to see if we wanted to relocate here.  I had a pretty good meal there, but for some reason never returned until last spring.   When we first went there they were serving tapas-ish small plates, but the next time around it was straight-up French.  This made me feel like a complete idiot because, both  online and offline, I’ve always bemoaned how Ann Arbor has 837 Indian and Korean restaurants, but NO French ones.  Oh well, one is better than none but still way too few.  Anyway, we weren’t terribly impressed with the execution of the food that last time.

Fast forward to last fall, I met up with Max D. for lunch as he had heard they recently went under new management.   One of the three brothers who owned it bought out the others and brought in new management and a new executive chef.  In an interview with MLive  the owner had said they had a reputation for bad service, which I had never heard. The new management, in addition to service changes, has partnered with Sparrow Meats (THE place to buy meat in A2) and local farms for ingredients – always a positive step.

Anyway, It’d been a while since I’d seen Max so this was a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – lunch with a friend and a blog post.   Here’s what we had:

CF Calamari

Calamari Roti – seasoned cornmeal breading, Werp Farms micro cress, aioli vert

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CF Feta pizza

French Feta with chorizo pizza – with apple, arugula, provolone

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CF Carrot

Carrot Potage with lemon ginger mousse

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CF Oignon

Soupe a L’Oignon – caramelized onions, dry marsala, gruyere

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All of them were generally very good.  We had thought that since this was a French restaurant, that the “roti”  meant that the calamari would be roasted – obviously we didn’t read the fine print – not your usual breaded kind.  Nevertheless, it was executed really well – fresh, not greasy, light breading.  The pizza was a tad on the salty side, but still good.  The soups were excellent.

It was good enough to go back a week later with the family, where we had –

CF Camembert

Camembert en croute – hazelnuts, fig jam, puff pastry

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CF Prosc pizza

Prosciutto & artichoke pizza – garlic oil, mozzarella, provolone

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CF Poisson

Poisson du Jour – Je pense que ceci était le flétan, mais j’ai oublié de le noter. Whatevs, C’était fantastique et a parfaitement cuisiné.

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CF Salade

Bistro salade – poached figs, roquefort, candied walnuts

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Again, everything was very good to excellent – great execution, fresh ingredients, plenty of flavor.  Service was also excellent and attentive.

What I appreciated the most was that the wine list was 100% French, who I still maintain make the best wines.

CF Vin

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As a result, they were able to get a wider and deeper selection – not the token 2-3 bottles on other restaurants’ lists.  Even if you don’t agree about the general quality of French wines, it’s definitely a nice touch to be able to go into a French (or Italian or American) restaurant and get only wines from there.  I went with the Alsatian Pinot Blanc, which was crisp and full-bodied.

I’m glad I went and excited about the prospects of a good-quality French restaurant here in Ann Arbor.  I’ve certainly had better in Chicago and New York, but that doesn’t do me much good on a weekday night here in Ann Arbor.  So, obviously, I’d love it if even more opened up here.  I’d never heard about their reputation for poor service.  From my limited experience and hearing what others have said, the issue was always sub-standard food.  Hopefully the word will get out, because that reputation is going to be hard to overcome.

Are you a fan of French food? Have you been to Cafe Felix?

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Note – use of French in the fish caption was not meant to show-off any linguistic skills.  It was to obscure the fact that I forgot to write down what it was.  I clearly recall it being excellent, though.

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Cafe Felix on Urbanspoon

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

21 comments on “Ann Arbor Eats – Cafe Felix

  1. a2sicilian
    February 11, 2014

    Thanks for the review. Darling place, but when I went several years ago a few times, food was never good enough to pull me back. Looks like it’s time for another visit!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      February 11, 2014

      Didn’t mention that I’ve always liked their atmosphere. It really does evoke bistros I’ve seen in Paris. Too lazy to update the post…

  2. gabrieleneumann
    February 11, 2014

    I straight up only know what poisson means (and how to say it) because of that song in The Little Mermaid. I always went to Café Felix more for Martini Monday than because of the food, but next time I’m back in Michigan, I’ll have to try a meal there!

  3. talkavino
    February 11, 2014

    Drool… Looks beautiful!

  4. primalktc
    February 11, 2014

    When I was a student I had a friend who would drag me to Cafe Felix to study because the service was so awful they’d just let you sit and sit and never bother to see if you needed anything. I hated that place. I’m glad to hear it’s better now but I don’t know if I can overcome the memories and go back.

  5. ksbeth
    February 11, 2014

    i used to go all the time, but the service became horrible, so i stopped going. i gave ti a try again this winter, on a few different occasions, including a sunday brunch and it was excellent both in food quality and service. glad i gave it another try.

  6. reversecommuter
    February 11, 2014

    That looks delish!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      February 11, 2014

      It’s good, but I’m pretty sure there are much better out in Boston..

      • reversecommuter
        February 11, 2014

        Surprisingly in this city there are some incredibly phenomenal restaurants and then a whole lotta “meh”.

  7. PinotNinja
    February 11, 2014

    I love that “whateves” is the same in every language. And now I’m dying for some onion soup!

  8. thewineraconteur
    February 11, 2014

    I had been thinking about writing about Cafe Felix for some time, but the ennui and the whateve somehow kept me from doing it. I remember having great food there and a good wine selection, and I also recall good service. We will have to go there again, and then I shall wait a while, before I attempt an article.

  9. Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    February 12, 2014

    I haven’t been to Felix for a proper meal in a long time, but I have been by about four times the last several months. (1) Dishcrawl event – food was excellent, presented by exec. chef, and I was quite impressed, hard to judge the service during a group tasting event but left with a positive feeling; (2) Whiskey Tasting Dinner – was absolutely blown away by the awesome food and event in general and immediately booked the next month’s tasting again; (3) 2nd Whiskey Tasting Dinner – food was prepared by “another” chef (according to the lead bartender who led the tasting event), and was was not nearly as good as the first go; (4) Brunch buffet a couple weeks ago – food was very good and the executive chef was present at the buffet to tell us about the food; our server was quite slow.

  10. the winegetter
    February 16, 2014

    So, I really have to contend that the pizzas are completely out of place in a French restaurant. If you want to have something pizza like, it should be crisp, very thin-crust flammkuchen. The photos you posted make it look way too much like an American idea of pizza, which in itself defies most authentic pizzas…and mozzarella and provolone on a French “pizza”? Seriously?

    That said, I appreciate the wine list being French, I always thought that was the way to go for restaurants that focus on one cuisine. Also, the food does look delicious. I should go and try it. Although I’ll stay away from pizza and flatbread.

  11. Lien
    June 25, 2014

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  12. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2014 by in Ann Arbor, Dining and tagged , , , , , .
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