My friends and I went to Felidia's recently for lunch. It's got a kind of cozy, if slightly stuffy atmosphere: yellow walls, warm red lamps.
Appetizer bread was decent and served with three varieties of a chickpea dip, of which the pesto was the best.
I ended up ordering a beet salad with goat cheese that turned out to be beautifully laid out and delicious. Pieces of apple complemented the beet perfectly, and the spread on a wide square plate was highly artistic and colorful.
My main course was a pear-and-cheese ravioli that I had eaten once before and which was also excellent. Fruit and cheese accented each other just as well in the delicate ravioli skin as they did in the beet salad. Gourmet but also simple and addictive, this was the best kind of high-end pasta.
My dessert was a small scoop of almond gelato wedged between two meringue cookies, on a bed of crepes filled with a lemony pastry cream. Also excellent. The cookies were soft and melted in my mouth. The gelato was aromatic and full-bodied. Pieces of candied fruit in the gelato added extra texture, crunch, and taste.
The food was great. What was not so great was the service. For one thing, when I asked about vegetarian options, the waiter seemed to be singularly unhelpful. I had to extract information about each of the entrees I was interested in myself (it felt like pulling teeth), and he suggested no flexibility or accommodation in any of the dishes I asked about that had meat. Neither did he voluntarily point to other dishes that I might be interested in, or try to paint any of the vegetarian dishes as particularly appealing (the vegetables and polenta: "just vegetables spread flat"). He simply wasn't very helpful -- it showed in his attitude.
Then, when the check came, and the four of us wanted to split the check three ways by what we had ordered (three of us had ordered a $29.50 prix-fixe, and I had ordered a la carte at a higher price), the captain on duty simply refused. "We can't do that." It obviously was not beyond their capabilities -- he was simply being rude or lazy or both.
It also bothered me -- though this was as much my fault as anyone's -- that they had charged me $50 for my three courses, and yet the combination of plates I had gotten: appetizer, main course, and dessert mirrored what someone with the prix-fixe would have gotten. My 1st and 2nd course were both "first course" options on the prix-fixe. I feel like the waiter could have suggested my getting an extra 1st course option as a 2nd course. But he didn't. Yes, I realize this was not his obligation. But it would have generated a lot of goodwill.
The rude and unhelpful service makes this a restaurant I will not go to again on my dime.
The Vegetarian New Yorker: http://vegny.blogspot.com/