@Sveky Really appreciate the feedback! All the items you mentioned were very intentional but I'm not surprised to hear this feedback. I have another site setup in a very similar style/layout that is converting very well so I'm trying the same approach.
I'm not wanting the user to navigate via the menu but instead scroll and click in the footer. The portfolio section is darker or distracting so the user will notice the section more than others. Your point about the contrast of the footer links has crossed my mind also – I'll look at that again – originally I had them darker but users didn't seem to be clicking them to go deeper into the site and now they are...maybe taking them bold would be a solution.
I think serif body copy like Playfair is fine but realize that many designers don't use serif in body copy – really wanting to break away from the standard Open Sans, Robot, Lato world...at least for this project