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Fountainhead

By Victoria Wiedel | Monday, May 24, 2010
Address: 1970 W. Montrose Avenue
Phone: 773-697-8204
Website: http://fountainheadchicago.com/

Fountainhead is located in the heart of several neighborhoods (apparently). Photo by Victoria Wiedel.

If you enjoy drinking and shouting, you;re going to love Fountainhead, the eagerly anticipated “gastropub” that recently opened on the northeast corner of Montrose and Damen. Or as they like to say, it’s nestled in the heart of the Ravenswood, Lincoln Square and Northcenter neighborhoods.

Even before Fountainhead officially opened, it had 100 fans on Facebook, and there was an hour-long wait for a table. But Fountainhead’s early success was no fluke, nor was it due solely to the triple bypass location. The owner also operates Bar on Buena, and the one-and-only “Beer Dude” (Phil Kuhl, formerly of Sheffield;s) has cultivated a seasonal list of more than 20 local and import brews on draft ($5 to $8), as well as installing hand-pumped beer engines in the center of the bar.

But this is not just a destination for “Beer Dude” wannabes. You?ll also find a sophisticated wine list following pages of bourbons and whiskeys from exotic locales such as the UK, Japan, and Iowa. Servers are plentiful and extremely friendly, but some servers still struggle when it comes to drink questions. But you probably won’t be able to hear them with the dull roar of the crowd in the background.

Inside the "gastropub." Photo by Victoria Wiedel.

Speaking of the menu, Robyn Marfurt (also from Bar on Buena) is running Fountainhead?s kitchen, and she has created a relatively brief list of multi-cultural options that compliment the diversity of beverages. European, Mediterranean, and Asian influences appear under cutesy titles like ?Stuff on Bread? and ?Not Sharing.? So depending on which corner of the globe you want to pretend you?re sitting in, you can have ?Half Wit? mussels ($8) with Cantillon Kriek, bruschetta ($8) with Pinot Grigio, or a hoisin-braised pork belly sandwich topped with pickled vegetables and wasabi ($10) with Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt. Feel free to correct my pairing suggestions below!

I?m looking forward to sampling the Old Lincoln Ave platter ($14) of sausages, radishes, cheese spread (bring on the obatzda!), and cider-braised cabbage along with a rauchbier when Fountainhead opens its rooftop patio in July.

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  • Steve

    I have been to fountainhead twice and have been underwhelmed by the food and just downright aggravated by the staff. The first time was when my wife and I tried to sit at a “sacred” booth and instead was told that the 3 booths were reserved for big parties. The initial server was ready to sit us wherever we wanted but the manager abruptly made it perfectly clear that we could not take one of the precious booths. It’s 6pm midweek!!! And then no one sat in those booths the whole time we were there. Class Act. The staff is already mismanaged which is a great sign for a new “gastropub” in a very needy neighborhood. Good luck with that attitude. We will see how long you cool guys last! This place is not as necessary to the hood as the staff thinks it is. It’s a dime a dozen joint. The food in not very creative or have fun flavors at all. Bruschetta last time I checked was not build your own! Sure the beer list is more extensive than Miller Lite but with a staff that treats people like crap (Hey, ya just opened) they will not last long.

  • Steven

    I agree (different Steve though, I promise) with above. Tried to eat there twice. First time was told that there was 6 people in front of us for a table, but they didn’t know how long it would be. After waiting an hour at the bar, went to ask the progress and there were still 4 groups ahead of us. Needless to say, my group of 4 went to Bad Apple instead (just as good of a beer selection and incredible burgers). Second time around just wanted to grab a drink, going in knowing we would have no shot at a table. Walked in and was informed that they were at capacity and I couldn’t even go to the bar. Frankly, it was less crowded than the first time I went. I really want to like this place, but they are running out of chances.

  • GFR

    I would agree that the biggest issue at Fountainhead is service, but I really hope they can figure it out…soon. We didn’t have the same problems as other posters, but we did have an over-eager busboy who kept taking the (partially) empty plates and glasses from our table and disrupting our conversation. But the food and drink were quite good and the atmosphere very good. I’m sure they appreciate constructive criticism and hope they will take it seriously. They’ve been crushed by the relative novelty of the concept in the neighborhood but surely they will figure out how to make it work given the extensive investment they’ve made in infrastructure (that building and remodel weren’t cheap).

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