Earlier this week, I posted my Chef Spotlight with Chef Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead. After speaking with Cleetus to gain insight into him and his food, I dined at Fountainhead with a friend. While I met Cleetus on the fully landscaped and spacious rooftop garden, I dined in the rich mahogany wood covered dining room. The menu is designed to promote and emphasize the sizable beverage program, which includes over 500 whiskeys, craft beers, and wines, and the food is meant to be shared. Each component of every dish is handmade in Fountainhead’s kitchen, and sustainable, seasonal, and local ingredients are utilized.
I am a recent fan of hard ciders, so I started with a Vander Mill Cider Apple which was well balanced and delicious. To eat, we began with the sriracha deviled eggs. I usually order deviled eggs whenever I see them on a menu, and these did not disappoint. Served four halves to an order, these eggs were perfectly cooked and were filled with a tasty and creamy yolk mixture with just enough sriracha to give it some bite.
Next came the fantastic mac & cheese, featuring smoked gouda and butterkase cheeses, and topped with toasted bread crumbs. I could not stop eating the cheesy, noodly goodness and am craving more just writing about it. Our version was vegetarian and a side order, but one could add duck confit or chopped bacon and order an entree portion, as well.
We also tried the true Maryland crab cake, made with super lump crab meat, spicy remoulade, and served over greens. The crab cakes can be ordered in two sizes, featuring either one or two crab cakes, and are gluten free. A sandwich version is also on the menu and is served with slaw or fries. The spicy remoulade made this dish a winner for me, in addition to the nice ratio of crab meat to bread crumbs. I do not think I would order the sandwich version, however, as it may be too dry or bready for my liking.
My absolute favorite dish of the entire evening was the mushroom quinoa risotto. Chef delivered this dish himself, signaling that it would be delicious, and boy was it! Served with shaved parmesan and fresh basil, the quinoa had a tremendous amount of taste and the risotto texture was very satisfying. While our version was both vegetarian and gluten free, the option to add duck confit or chopped bacon is available. I am definitely returning for this dish – only this time, the entree portion!
Also good was the mussels vindaloo, served with Half Acre Over Ale tomato sauce, shallots, dippin’ bread, and a side of tasty fries with house-made horseradish mayo & ketchup. I happily sopped up the Half Acre tomato sauce with the fresh bread after the mussels were devoured.
The only dish that disappointed was the pan fried trout, served over lemon grass and coconut rice, and with asparagus and red pepper. The presentation was nice, but the trout tasted a bit fishy, the skin was not crispy enough, and the dish lacked flavor.
Overall, I was quite pleased with my meal at Fountainhead. Service was excellent, well-informed and expertly trained. Servers made educated recommendations and offered to accommodate all manner of food allergies, intolerances and preferences. I will definitely return to sample more hard ciders, for the beer battered pickles, and for a large portion of the mushroom quinoa risotto.
After speaking with Chef Cleetus and sampling his food, I could not help but feel at home at Fountainhead. It truly offers a sense of community that makes people keep coming back.
1970 West Montrose Avenue, Chicago, IL