Prior to early May 2010, if you wanted a great beer in Lincoln Square
or North Center
, you had to settle. When Fountainhead opened at the corner of Montrose and Damen, it was a sight for sore beer-geek eyes ... but would it have enough appeal for the rest of the 'hood?
With two beer engines on hand to crank out cask-conditioned brews, a dedicated and educated bar staff that knows their beer, and a Beer Director peeled away from Sheffield's Beer School Bar (Phil Kuhl), if you want a properly temperate and deftly chosen beer in the proper glassware, look no further. Focusing on American craft brews with a nod to the neighborhood's German tradition, selections from Half Acre, Metropolitan, Three Floyds and Two Brothers hang out next to Konig Pilsener, BBK and Schlenkerla Helles.
It's not all about the beer, though. The wine menu is diverse and decently priced, and if you want a well-thought-out scotch or whiskey experience, you'll do well here. Of note is the bourbon menu, which has been organized in terms of price by the shot and by the drink, and interestingly in a Neat/Rocks/Manhattan category.
So, what about the food? The menu has its eyes set on a finer destination than most of its surroundings. When an appetizer menu features duck breast, you can be certain you're not dealing with a standard wings/nachos outlook. Sandwiches skew to the pig-centric with a beer-braised pork shoulder on sourdough or a pork belly topped with pickled veggies and wasabi lime mustard. Entrees are split between the "not-sharing section" (steak, hearty mac n' cheese) and an interesting "sharing" section, seemingly aimed at the grazing drinker. Plates like the Old Lincoln Avenue with sausages and braised cabbage or the Pleased to Meat You with pork rilletes and pate are made for groups to pick at as they sample the brews or the spirits.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars