I'm always a bit wary about dining and drinking at Rice Village establishments. I love my students, but there's something about being spotted wolfing down a plate of cheese fries or slurping an over-sized cocktail that lessens your professional credibility. My friends, however, had been raving about Felix 55, and I was similarly enticed by Katharine Shilcutt's first look and Minh Truong's post on their happy hour.
We arrived at Felix 55 in time to enjoy some happy hour drink specials and with some trepidation, I ordered a cosmopolitan. From past entries, you might know that I am fussier than a six-month-old with colic when it comes to my cosmos, which I believe are often prepared with too much cranberry juice. I told the bartender I preferred my drink Not Sweet, and the good fellow cheerily accommodated me by carefully preparing a bold cosmopolitan with only a hint of pink in an icy glass...rimmed with sugar. Confusing final touch notwithstanding, I give him props for so fastidiously constructing my drink, which, after all, was just a happy hour martini ($5).
Properly hydrated, I was now ready for some food. Minh highly recommended the corn fritters, but they had disappeared from the happy hour menu, which was disappointing for me and even sadder, I think, for my friend Kattie, who lamented the paucity of vegetarian options. After some extended deliberation and another cocktail, I ordered the "rice-dust calamari" ($5) just before the stroke of seven. I had no idea what "rice-dusted" meant, but it made me think of "moon dust," which is definitely cool.
Here's my confession about calamari: I actually prefer it slightly soggy rather than overly crisp. Felix's fried squid satisfied this preference, with a thick, bumpy batter that encased softer, chewier meat. And while I'm never one to turn down a side of mayonnaise, I liked that Felix 55 offered ponzu and red chile dipping sauces rather than the traditional [insert flavor here] aioli.
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Next course was the prosciutto flatbread, a sizable rectangle of crispy, paper-thin dough topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and garlic. Ten points to Felix for using cured ham that wasn't overly salty, and ten points more for not overloading the flatbread with greens. (There's nothing appealing about eating what amounts to a giant salad on a cracker.) Minus 10 points on the crust, which lacked depth and character. Yes, I know it's supposed to be flat, but that refers to its measure on the y-axis, not its flavor dimension. Spice up the dough, I say! Or at least use a more interesting combinations of flours and/or yeasts.
The food and drink at Felix 55 are not perfect, but modest prices, attentive servers, and a quieter, more slow-paced evening clientele (as opposed to Benjy's fly-by-the-seat-of-your-scrubs hospital crowd) ensure at least a second visit from me.