Iris and Steve Wheeler are immense fans of Europe, with Iris hailing from Germany and both having spent years living abroad. In an attempt to import some of that Old World charm to their corner of the globe in Moreland Hills, the two have labored to create the cafe of their dreams. That dream becomes reality tomorrow, July 7, when Fountain (34105 Chagrin Blvd., 216-755-1225) opens its doors to the public.
"This is such a unique concept that the Wheelers envisioned, designed, and saw through from beginning to end," explains chef Donna Chriszt.
Located at the intersection of S.O.M. and Chagrin, in the same small development as the newly opened Flour, Fountain is described by Chriszt as "a café by day and cocktail lounge by night." Fountain opens daily at 7 a.m. as an upscale full-service coffeehouse serving Italian coffee, espresso and latte. Morning eats consist of German pastries, rolls and light sandwiches.
Come noontime, salads, sandwiches and heartier plates become available. Items include a salad Nicoise, egg-topped roasted asparagus, German breakfast sandwich with weisswurst and mustard, and Croque Monsieur.
Dinner is a laidback affair, with lounge seating and a no-reservation policy. A lengthy menu of small and "social" plates allow for snacking and sharing. Tapas selections range from spicy shrimp in garlic sauce and roasted carrot terrine to scallop crudo and sweet and savory crepes. Various charcuterie platters focus on offerings from France, Germany and one designed specifically for vegetarians.
A 225-bottle wine list is exclusively Old World, while the 50-bottle beer list is 100-percent European. An expansive cocktail list is also available.
The interior is described as very warm, comfortable and cozy, built with loads of tile, brick and repurposed wood beams. There are water fountains inside and out.
"In Europe, every town square has a fountain, which serves as a gathering place for people and families," notes Chriszt, in regard to the name. "Fountain is not about turning tables; we want people to stick around and lounge."