fountain in moreland hills: the good, the bad and the weird

Build it and apparently they do come. The long-standing vacant (or so it felt) newly constructed property in Moreland Hills where Hyde Park once stood is starting to fill up with tenants. Of course there’s Paul Minnillo’s Flour, which we have enjoyed numerous times since it opened this past spring, a salon and spa and now Fountain which opened a few months back.

Dubbed a European café and wine lounge, Fountain is trying to be a little something for everyone. Perhaps it’s trying to do too much. Only time will tell. It’s a full-service coffee house that also offers smoothies and protein shakes, a rather impressive menu offering breakfast through dinner, live music and finally a wine bar. Phew.

The good. The location for starters. At least for me – it’s close to home and I think a nice compliment for the area. I’d also put the food and coffee in this group, too. We’ve been for breakfast and lunch and enjoyed both, especially lunch. The breakfast menu is the smallest of the trio but satisfying nonetheless. I liked the cured salmon plate and Jamie liked his daily strata. But the highlight may have been the German brezel (the dough is shipped in from Europe). I didn’t find out what’s so special about the dough, but they are onto something because for a pretty basic offering, this one was pretty good. For lunch, I absolutely loved my tomato bufala salad with sundried tomato tapenade. Jamie’s croquet monsieur with a fried egg was a bit on the salty side but Natalie’s chicken crepe with corn sauce was spot on – and good enough to be served to any adult.

But perhaps the best feature of Fountain is just how family-friendly they are. There’s a special part of the restaurant designated just for families and a separate kids menu that doesn’t have any of the ho-hum friend standard kids’ fare. We’ve dined there as a family twice, for breakfast and lunch, and both were successful ventures.

The bad. Fountain offers a concierge service, which is just a fancy way of saying drive-thru minus the window. You pull to one of the designated spots any day between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. and they’ll come to you. In theory, this is good. Really good in fact, especially when you are toting small kids and are sleep deprived due to a newborn and find yourself in constant need of a caffeine refuel. Which is why I have taken advantage of this service at least half a dozen times. Unfortunately, on three of those occasions no one actually came out. Some might not think this is a big deal, but when you have little ones, getting in and out of car seats and carrying an infant car seat with you while trying to corral a toddler isn’t an enjoyable past time. On each occasion, I went in and questioned the service and twice spoke with the manager. Not in an attempt to be rude, but I feel if you have a problem with something, you should let the party know so they can correct it moving forward. Each time I received a less than enthusiastic apology and a look that seemed more annoyed that I’d even question them let alone complain. If you’re going to offer this service, then offer it. You have windows everywhere. Clearly you can see people sitting out there, especially when staff is just hanging out and not overly busy.

The weird. This one especially, like opinions in general, is clearly subjective. The overall décor and staff uniforms I just don’t get. The patio, which for the most part is a nice gathering spot, features a fountain. Rather expected, right? Except it’s way too big for the space. Oddly large in fact. I found the inside to be somewhat odd, too (except the immediate coffee area which is nicely done). There are just too many knick-knacks and things going on that just don’t seem to fit. And then there are the uniforms. The staff looks like they should be working in some bad corporate hotel. The last point is small, I know, but I can’t help but question what look they were going for on every visit.

8 Comments

  1. CleverinClevo
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I concur that Fountain has good, bad, and weird. My recent trip:

    Good: The food. We went during early dinner hours and were pleasantly surprised by how good everything was. The french beans and tomatoes were simple but light, fresh and delicious. A top-notch antipasti plate (seriously, one of the best I’ve ever had) with artfully-arranged local veggies complemented the olive-oil poached fish which was meaty and firm and bright in the citrus veloute.

    The bad: Fountain is seat-yourself, which can be nice in that you can pick your preferred seating. We chose open spots on the patio in some lounge seating and although the staff saw us sit down, we sat there for easily 15 minutes before anyone came over. When someone finally did, they asked if anyone had visited us yet, and seemed surprised when we said no. My BF had offered to go up and flag someone down sooner, but I wanted to see how long it took. If your policy is open seating, please be aware of customers sitting down and at least toss a menu at them or something, or give them some acknowledgement that you will be right with them. We were there well before the dinner rush and the place was not busy, and there were at least 3 servers working the relatively small patio area. It sounds like staff apathy may be a trend out there.

    The weird: I agree with the uniforms. My BF commented on them, asking if they were aiming for a sort of Bavarian Youth Camp look. I have no idea.

  2. David Wirthwein
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I drive by Fountain daily, living in Chagrin Falls, but have not been in yet. Either too crowded (dinner) or too empty (breakfast) and always seemed a bit “off.”. However, just from driving by and reading about the place in their own words and on the website, your review points out negatives my wife and I have already identified: too-large fountain, odd servant uniforms, likely unattended concierge spots and the bizarre “we love Europe way too much” (so why not move there) menu, despite how tasty it may be. And so many Euro beer choices, etc… which they are likely out of if ordered. And the dance floor! Newbie restaurant owner mistakes…. And is Donna Chriszt still attached?

  3. kakaty
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Now I want to go just to see the staff uniforms. My office isn’t too far away …I might need to drive over there for some coffee

  4. Posted September 9, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I went for a GNO a couple of weeks ago. There was no room on the patio, but we were super comfortable on the couches. Our waiter was very attentive and thorough – and honest – when describing the dishes. Honestly didn’t notice the uniforms, but I did notice the super-loud piano that made conversation a bit difficult.

    I would go back – but for a coffee/drink/dessert, not for dinnner.

  5. mands
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Food here is fantastic! So comfortable! Donna is gone and there is a fantastic new chef! No restaurant starts off perfectly, this is the perfect place for Moreland!!! Mandy

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