It’s almost impossible to write a headline or introduction to this Chicago spot without making reference to Ayn Rand, though really it’s a nod to locally and responsibly sourced ingredients. My buddies and I had just 24 hours in the Windy City, planning to catch the Cubs take on the Brewers at Wrigley before driving over to South Bend the next day. Having done our cultural duty by taking an architectural boat tour earlier in the afternoon (activities!), we felt we had earned a few pre-game beers. It’s a not-impossible 30 minute walk from the stadium, otherwise just cab it from this Ravenswood spot down to Wrigleyville.
While Texas was still sweltering in 90+ degree heat, the weather was a beautiful and sunny 68 in Chicago – perfect for Fountainhead’s enviable patio, though by now it’s closed for the season. Straight through the nearly empty bottom floor up the stairs to the already crowded rooftop, we grabbed a bar height table and tore into the menu, famished after missing lunch getting into town. The bill of fare changes depending on the season, so your mileage may vary, but Chef Cleetus Friedman kept a hawklike eye on all the provisions coming through his group of restaurants for the last three years, including owner Aaron Zacharias’ launchpad the Bar on Buena, and the Fountainhead Market nextdoor, until he left earlier this year. Chef Sean Sanders came in just as the group opened a new concept called the Northman back in February, Chicago’s first cider pub. Care from farm to table was evident from the elotes we enthused over both as appetizer and accompaniment to our mains, down to the arugula on our paninis.
The old fashioneds were an excellent aperitif, but, since you’re reading this here, a beer or two were not long behind. Starting with a piney Outlaw from Two Brothers Brewing, just about an hour west of where we were sitting, the bitter hops made a nice counterpoint to the piquant elotes, but a complex malt profile made it less brazenly west coast than many modern IPAs. Next came a much danker Daisy Cutter from the quintessentially Chicago Half Acre Beer, the base of that Double Daisy Cutter you might have been drinking on election day, if you’re left of center.
The sun was settling in over the horizon, so we paid the tab and started making our way toward Wrigley. When Chicago thaws out again in the spring, be sure to shake the snow off your solar panels and bask on that sun-dappled terrace. Until then, take comfort in the extensive bottle list at the Fountainhead.