Thursday, November 11, 2010

Felice Urban Cafe in Cleveland

A Little Background Information---Felice Urban Café is set in a beautifully restored turn of the century home.  The attention to detail inside makes you feel like you are right at home.   I love that they kept so much of the house true to its origins.   The lighting is dim and the food is 100% fine dining with a casual and friendly atmosphere.  There are a few options in terms of seating since the restaurant is based in an older home that they kept true to the layout.  There is a main first floor dining room that has approximately 8-10 tables.  Off the dining room is a small, but well stocked bar area. In the front of the house they have converted the porch into more seating which gives you a view of the street while you eat.  Also available is the 2nd floor seating area and when the weather is nice a beautiful new outdoor patio and bar.  My personal favorite spot to sit is the Chef’s Table which is located right off the kitchen with a view of everything that is going on behind the scenes at Felice!  The Chef’s table can seat four and makes for a wonderful dining experience.  Felice offers food with a Spanish and American flair and is located at 12502 Larchmere Blvd. Cleveland, OH 44120.  I’d highly recommend that you call ahead for a Reservation if you want to make sure you have a seat!
Food---Every Wednesday Felice has an amazing food special.  For only $22 a person each person gets 1 appetizer, 1 entrée and 1 desert.  You are free to pick anything off the regular menu or off the specials menu.   For dinner tonight there were two couples and I asked that we sit at the Chef’s table.  I love the experience of being in the kitchen even if there is a little more hustle and bustle going on.  Since we were at the Chef’s table we were treated to a very special “preappetizer” that came as a total surprise.  Our waitress brought us each a small plate of chopped beets that were drizzled with olive oil.  The beets also had a few almonds and some goat cheese on top.  The texture of the beets was excellent and the almonds gave some crunch to play off the softness of the beets.  The goat cheese really tied the flavors together too.
My girlfriend and I choose to each get the Wednesday three course special, and the other couple chose to split one special.   The three appetizers that were ordered were fried calamari that came with romesco sauce; an Italian style soup with kalamata olives, vegetables, and cannellini beans; and finally a take on a thin crust pizza that was piled with leafy greens and a poached egg.  Everyone absolutely loved their appetizers.  My girlfriend’s soup was seasoned perfectly, full of flavor and rather large in portion.
My  fried calamari was lightly breaded and cooked to perfection.  The breading was light and crispy and the texture of the calamari itself was spot on…I hate really chewy calamari and this was not at all chewy.  The romesco sauce was a perfect sauce to go with the Calamari.  Did you know… romesco sauce originates from Tarragona, in Northeastern Spain. Legend has it that fisherman used to make this sauce to eat specifically with the fresh seafood they caught. Today it still remains a highly popular sauce in Spain and is now served with a variety of foods.  It consists of Roasted red peppers , ground almonds, olive oil and vinegar to make a smooth and rich sauce that is packed with flavor.   I loved the smooth/rich texture of the sauce and the roasted red pepper flavor really went very well with the calamari’s natural flavor.  
The small thin crust pizza also was very good and my friends that joined us ate every last bite.  They really enjoyed the fresh greens and the poached egg on top of a delicious thin crust! 

Onto the Entrées…The couple that was with us ordered the Steak And Frites. It came with a thinly sliced grilled skirt steak that was topped with an arugula sauce.  It also came with braised garden greens, and homemade ketchup.   The tenderness of the steak was good but it could have been cooked a hair more according to my friends fiancé.  The arugula sauce that was on top of the steaks really added some great flavor to the steak and the jojo was also excellent.
My girlfriend ordered the Barbecue St. Louis Ribs.  They came glazed in spicy barbecue sauce along with napa cabbage slaw, and thinly sliced house fries. I personally loved the spicy sauce that was on the ribs but my girlfriend found it a little too spicy.  She is not a spicy food lover, so this was more of a personal preference to the level of spice than a critique on the flavor.  What we did find somewhat disappointing with the dish was that the meat was a little over cooked.   The meat was somewhat dry and we would have liked a little more moisture content in the meat.  If the ribs had been more tender and moist this dish would have been perfect.  The skinny cut fries were well seasoned and were a perfect side for these spicy barbecue ribs.
Finally, I ordered a Maple Glazed Salmon that came with fingerling potatoes and mango.  This might have been the best piece of salmon that I have ever eaten.  The sweet buttery maple glaze in combination with a perfectly cooked piece of salmon absolutely melted in my mouth.  I am going to try reproduce a sauce like this because I could eat salmon that good at least once a week!   The only small complaint I had with the near flawless dish was the potatoes were a little too hard for my taste.
For our third and final course, the desert round, we ordered Chocolate Cake that was topped with fresh vanilla bean ice cream, espresso flavored Creme Brulee with fresh fruit and finally a fresh toast desert with whipped goat cheese.  We all shared desert because we all wanted to experience all of these wonderful flavors.  Every single dish was a hit and I would not hesitate in ordering any of these.  The cake was moist and exploded with chocolate flavor that was only enhanced by the contrasting vanilla bean ice cream.   The Crème Brulee had a hint of coffee flavor and was simply prepared perfectly.  The top of the Crème Brulee had a perfect thin crust and the inside was creamy and delicious!  Finally, the French Toast was also a hit.  The cinnamon flavor and the sweetness of the glaze in combination with the light and fluffy whipped goat cheese was the perfect ending to my meal.  When you look at each meal as a whole we all walked away very full and very impressed.  The food really was well done and clearly cooked with great care.   With just a few minor tweaks to a few dishes this would have been a perfect meal across the board.  You’ll see me back at Felice for sure!   I’d give Felice’s food a 4.5/5

Drinks---Felice offers a variety of different drink selections such as various Cocktails, Craftbeer, and Wine.   The majority of our evening consisted of Craftbeer for the men and wine for the ladies.   In terms of wine they keep it pretty simple.  They have 4-5 varieties of red and 4-5 varieties of white wine available.  No matter if you are a fan of Red/White or Dry/Sweet chances are you will find a wine that meets your needs.  If you are a Craftbeer fan I think you would enjoy Felice, but I wouldn’t say you want to make it your every night Craftbeer hang out.   Their Craftbeer list remains pretty consistent with only a few bottles rotating.   They do not offer draft beer at the inside bar and I did not get to see if they offer it when the patio is open.  In terms of the types of beers, they have 2-3 types of 4-5 different styles of Craftbeer.  For instance, they had 2-3 porters (I had the Rouge Mocha Porter), 3 IPAs (I had all three: Brooklyn East IPA, Anderson Valley Hop Ottin, 21st Amendment Back in Black), 2 wheat, and 2 Belgian style beers along with 3-4 other brews (Totally about 15 different bottled Craftbeers).  Overall if you are a Craftbeer fan there is nearly 100% chance you’ll find a beer that you’d like to have with dinner.   I was happy they had a variety of quality Craftbeer, and I’d give them a higher score if they expanded their selection a bit and/or added a couple draft beers to the menu. Reviews of the beers I drank will be published on the CraftBeer Review Page.   I’d give their drink selection and quality a 3.5/5.
Service/Overall---When I arrived I was kindly greeted and was quickly attended to.  The owner was walking around greeting the patrons and engaging in conversations with them.  I thought this was a great added touch.   Felice is already a warm and inviting place and having the owner walking around conversing with customers made it seem even more warm and inviting.  You don’t see that every day in restaurants anymore.  Since my party was running late I decided to have a few beers at the bar while I waited.   The bartender was friendly, engaging and knowledgeable.  I couldn’t ask for better service to start the night.  The great service continued throughout the evening.  Our server was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about each dish that we had questions about.  Each course came out in a timely fashion and appropriately spaced to allow us time to eat without having to rush to finish before our next dish.   In terms of pricing, you cannot beat the 3 course meal for only $22 a person on Wednesdays, but if you go on another night the food is very reasonably priced.  Appetizers ranged from $5-$10, Entrées ranged from $13-20, and Deserts were priced at $6.50.  Glasses of wine were all under $10 and bottles of craftbeer were between $4-$5 each.  If you are looking for a great fine dining experience with great food, a great atmosphere and great service Felice would be a great place to make a reservation at.  Also, if you are looking for a great romantic location to take someone special call Felice and make a reservation (216-791-0918) for the Chef’s table…you won’t be sorry that you did!   Felice Urban Café is open for dinner Monday-Thursday from 4pm-10pm and Friday and Saturday from 4pm-12am.  They also offer a Happy Hour Tuesday-Friday, from 4-7pm with discounts on drinks and appetizers.  In terms of service, value and overall dining experience I’d give Felice a 5/5!
Felice Urban Cafe on Urbanspoon

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