This is going to be the most boring review ever, because I have nothing bad to say. Gone are my snarky comments, and shrewd, cutthroat observations; and in their place is only the Hallmarky sentiment: I love Thee Red Fez. sigh.
Here is what I love about Thee Red Fez (with additional comments by Jewish Friend):
1. The upstairs room is painted all red so sitting in it is like sitting inside a red fez— genius.
Jewish Friend: I especially like that some, not all of the string lights adorning the room are red. Certain swank bars (cough: Avery) are simply too dark and loud for conversation. Not so at Thee Fez. You can see your dining companions, and also your friendly nearby hat-wearing animals.
2. The walls in the upstairs room are decorated with animal heads– which normally skeeves me out a bit, especially while eating, and because of some incidents in my past, but these animal heads get to wear little red fezzes, which I find charming in an anthropomorphic kind of way. It takes away the gruesomeness and the hunterly bragging of showing off “the kill” and allows me instead to believe that these animals feel good about their accessories and are watching down on me with all good wishes.
Jewish Friend: Certain vegan friends of mine have trouble eating at fez because of what they [snobbily] describe as ‘the death that surrounds them’ there, but, like Andria, I find the decor to be whimsical.
3. The downstairs room is cozy without feeling cramped, mostly booths, and there’s a jackalope skull on the wall.
Jewish Friend: Downstairs feels a bit less fancy and more dinerish to me, but sometimes that atmosphere is what I am looking for. Both levels have a bar, and the downstairs also has fun old movie posters. The bathroom downstairs is spacious, and you can read on the walls about a movie where an older man adopted a Karate master. It is wonderful.
4. My Jewish Friend knows that the best Riesling is not on the menu, and even though the menus are just printed sheets of paper, and they could easily afford to update them (in fact, they change the menu frequently)– the best Riesling remains “not on the menu.” This is clearly my snobbery shining through, and did I not have a friend who knows this little backdoor trick, I would most likely be outraged. As it is, I feel special and cool.
Jewish Friend: Andria is not special and cool, I am special and cool. Andria lives vicariously through me. But really the reisling is delicious.
5. The service is always prompt without being imposing and you can easily flag someone down if you need something else.
Jewish Friend: I was beginning to think that no one found my adorable witty comments cute anymore. Luckily, the waitress at Fez found me just as adorable as I had hoped to be. She was attentive, and gave us great insight on the menu and the specials. She also gave me a good tip about how long the delicious looking peanut noodle tempeh dish would be there for future trips when I don’t want mac and cheese.
6. The Mac & Cheese is exquisite, plentiful, and affordable. It has a slightly smoky flavor from the Gouda, and really, all I need to be happy in life is smoked Gouda. There’s always enough in a serving to take some home, it only costs $11, and it’s good the next day. Seriously, I took Friend from Cowboy/Ski-pole country there, and we both got the mac & cheese; she had to go back home without eating her leftovers, and I feasted on that stuff for three days– never got tired of it.
Jewish Friend: I especially like the crunchy crumblies on top. Too often mac and cheese crumblies aren’t crunchy enough for my liking.
Most recent visit:
Jewish Friend and I sat downstairs and the air conditioner was blowing right on us. Jewish Friend tends to get cold easily, and the cardigan that she brought with her was not warding off the chill. We asked our server if she could adjust it a little and instead of grumbling, or saying “no, I can’t” she immediately replied “It is a little cold, isn’t it? I’ll take care of that right away.” And Jewish Friend was warm and comfortable the rest of the meal.
Jewish Friend: This was to everyone’s benefit really. I get whiny when I am cold.
The dirty martini was perfect– best either of us have had to date. The olives they use are stuffed with pimientos like usual, but taste like they’ve been soaked in something spicy, which is very fun–$8.
Considering the rather lousy, okay, just plain bad service that Jewish Friend and I have had in our dining experiences of late i.e. Bravo, Medditerraneo (in that case the other diners sitting next to us were asking why we hadn’t gotten our food yet, and getting banned (yes, banned, told to never come back) from Louis simply because we waited 40 minutes for soggy eggs and had the audacity to say that we were unhappy about it– it was simply wonderful to have a server who acted like we were there to be served, and not like we were ruining her life just by walking through the doors.
She made recommendations: “Oh the Bay Fries really are the best– would you like those out first because the mac & cheese can take quite a while.”
Said cute things like: “careful, the mac & cheese just came out of the oven, so it’s, like, lawsuit hot.”
And drew a picture of a little fez on the bill.
2. My favorite booth is right next to a pinball machine– but that’s not even that bad.
Decor/atmosphere: 9, it’s a little cold in the winter, upstairs anyway
Service: 9.5, really no complaints, but I feel like I can’t quite give it a 10– so obvious
Food: 9, I’ve only tried the mac & cheese, salad, and fries, but all were excellent. They get a 9 because there’s celery salt on the fries, and I really hate celery, and because Jewish Friend does not care for the aioli dipping sauce.