Fountain: dining on the roof of the Shell building

Shortly before we are expected to appear at the agreed time, a Fontein employee calls. Whether we would like to join you on another evening. Due to a few cancellations, we will be the only two guests of the rooftop restaurant that Thursday. However, we do not object to this at all. All the more so if we notice quickly enough that all the staff of this new business on Hofplein will absolutely not be boxed in by this very poor turnout, even in corona times.

Even for a single set of eaters, everything is pulled out in the Fontein. On the sidewalk in front of the former Shell building, Marcel Beijerling (ex-De Machinist) is ready to prepare our first welcome snacks on the spot. On an otherwise almost empty terrace, he operates the mobile wood oven in which a plate of fish or mussels is roasted for us as desired, together with an aperitif on the house.

After this entrance, we are guided through the breakfast and lunch area of ​​the restaurant on the ground floor to the elevator, where a second reception is prepared for us. Now by a host dressed as a piccolo from the Schiedam company Loopuyt, from whom we, with a lot of jokes and jokes, (“Could you find it easy? Yes, right? We have built a fountain especially for it.” And: “It has took a lot of effort to save a place for you here, but we succeeded!”) were given a free gin and tonic.

Once we have arrived on the tenth floor of the office building (Unilever is still there), we enter the domain of chef Ronald Koolmees, descendant of the family of the illustrious chicken outlet on 1e Middellandstraat. It turns out we’re not the only ones there. A table for two could be occupied at the last minute. In addition, a drinks party of ten ladies has been moved from the bottom to the top. So there is no lack of some extra fun and chatter in this otherwise rather bare pop-up. Although we are surprised for the third time in a week that there are apparently still plenty of occasions that completely ignore the catering regulations regarding COVID19.

Fontein’s rooftop restaurant serves a fixed five-course fish/meat or vegetarian menu, whether or not in combination with a wine arrangement. The dishes are changed every week, but they will undoubtedly be worth the 7.5 points we award Fontein. Koolmees knows his way around contemporary bistrot cuisine. As an appetizer we get a crazy pea-cress on a ‘black earth’ of olive and a cream of peas, a ceviche of jackfruit in a sauce of corn and cucumber pearls (vegan), and mackerel with an oyster tempura and cucumber gaspacho.

This is followed by two intermediate courses, including streaky bacon coated with apple syrup in a granny smith cream and langoustine mayonnaise, a pumpkin pie with cumin, ricotta and a vadouvan sauce, a terrine of guinea fowl in hoisin, and a tempeh dim sum with a lemongrass, coconut and port. The veal escalope with sweetbreads crisps and the chicory tarte tatin with red onion compote are less popular, especially because the latter dish is so sweet.

On the other hand, we contrast the broad experience that we are rarely if ever blown away by the meat and fish dishes in this type of restaurant. The creativity of these new bistrot chefs is always in what can be devised around that main corridor. Koolmees proves this again with his dessert of panna cotta, goat cheese, caramelized fig, oregano and a beetroot meringue. Hours later, we still taste it while kissing in bed.

Wim de Jong is a culinary critic.