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Rookies Taphouse leads Fountain’s craft-oriented scene 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

Rookies Taphouse and Eatery, 8017 Fountain Mesa Road, Fountain, 308-5235, eatatrookies.com

Fountain’s coming up for affordable rents as folks get priced out of the Springs. As the area gentrifies, Rookies may stand as the swankiest spot yet to open. Not that it’s particularly fancy, but it’s a sharp, craft-oriented sports bar that plays good music (ranging from Beck to hip-hop).

It hosts a completely respectable beer list, off which I nab Firestone Walker’s Coconut Merlin milk stout — deep, almost velvety, not synthetic but true to toasted coconut flavor, with the stylistic lactose element creaming the texture and sweetening the finish. And the bar food’s decent, and likely soon to improve with the arrival of chef Nathanial Tims, an Army veteran and graduate of and later instructor at Paragon Culinary School, most recently Springs Orleans’ sous chef.

This is Tims’ first executive chef position, and he’s just been hired a couple days before I drop in; he tells me he’ll be overhauling the menu. So I give more critical leeway than usual as I dive into a pulled pork green chile grilled cheese on buttery sourdough bread (the bought, not wild-yeast-made kind), served with respectably crisp fries (bought, well chosen) and a cup of nicely seasoned tomato bisque.

Tims transparently shares his thoughts on the food he inherited, and I see where he wants to tweak it; for my part here the Pueblo green chile’s too mild, failing to offer much spice as counterpoint to the faint pork sweetness and smoked cheddar and oven-smoked pork smokiness.

But I see promise and I dig Rookies’ vibe, noting it as worth a return visit for more, soon.

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