The Fountain

The Fountain is more of a gallery with a liquor license than a bar with local art on its walls. It began, though, as just a gallery, opened by OCAD graduate Maggy Perry and situated right in the heart of Little Portugal on Dundas West near Ossington. Maggy wanted a little something more, though, and almost a year after applying, The Fountain finally got its liquor license.

Now it's just beginning to make the transition from show space to two in one, but I think its charm is that it's lost somewhere in the space of neither.

The first thing I noticed walking up to The Fountain was the beautiful cascading chandelier in the front window. "I think that was a birthday present," the bartender tells me, "from Maggy's mom." Besides the chandelier and two small vintage lamps near the back, the entire bar is lit by candles.

Which isn't saying a whole lot, I suppose, since the space is fairly cozy, but it gives The Fountain a quiet, pleasant glow. If it wasn't for the eight-eyed pop-out alien sculpture staring at me from behind the bar (I have a thing about aliens) I would feel totally relaxed.

"Cool, eh?" the bartender says, noticing me eying the sculpture. "Check out the cakes," she says, motioning toward a group of frames near a back wall. Happy to leave my extraterrestrial friend behind, I move to check out the pictures, which are hanging above a small wooden table with two hairdresser's chairs pushed aside.

They're breakup cakes, with sullen messages written in sugary sweet icing including "I'm Moving to Australia Without You" and "Shit Or Get Off The Pot."

"That's totally Maggy's sense of humour. And it just works with everything else here." Chill and laid back seems to be the vibe. No taps, just a mini fridge, with domestic ($4) and imported ($6) beer.

An eclectic mix of liquor including Black Cherry Jim Beam, and a Fred Perry shoe mounted and strategically placed on a wall over a utility box. Even the music is laissez-faire, with an iMac at the back linked to the bar's speaker system.

"A lot of people who come here are OCAD friends," a man at the bar, who happens to be one of Maggy's friends, tells me. "But really, it's a place for everyone."

"It's so laid back," the bartender says, piping in. "We're not really 'cool,' just hanging around. And Maggy's incredibly charming. She even has the old Portuguese men in the area coming in for a drink."

The Fountain has a patio, but no permit yet; an espresso machine, but no coffee yet, but guaranteed lots of great, local art.

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