Timber is the latest undertaking by the crew behind Forage restaurant, in the spacious Listel Hotel quarters that used to be O’Doul’s. The saga behind long running O’Doul’s demise, Forage’s ascent, and now the arrival of Timber has a few twists but here’s the short version.
When O’Doul’s was shuttered, the (accountants’) idea was that the hotel’s high traffic Robson Street frontage would be better put to use under retail. Well, things didn’t quite pan out and, after a while, the expansive (and quite beautiful) art gallery closed.
When I heard the space was to revert to a restaurant, I couldn’t help but quietly chuckle…
Forage has been one of the most successful new restaurants in recent years, although nobody would argue that it s on the small side.
The challenge: what to do as a counterpoint.
Timber is a clever move on so many levels. The completely refurbished, high ceilinged room echoes all the airiness and light that was O’Doul’s appeal over the years. But the mood now is stripped down and uncluttered, with an open kitchen and acres of natural wood. It’s all a perfect fit with the modern, casual style of dining.
Timber makes even more use of the Robson frontage than its predecessor, with ample seating along the windows, as well as a standing bar on the Jervis side, which will also sport a patio come spring.
Timber’s decor sports plenty of lumberjack paraphernalia and logging equipment—though not too much. Almost everything is reclaimed, including the seat covers, which are old mail bags from Canada Post.
Oh, and there’s even a beaver, waiting to greet you, as there should be …
Timber: on the menu
Timber executive Chef Chris Whittaker says: “The idea is to focus on Canadian comfort food—and having fun with the classics—but doing things a bit differently. For instance, in the mushroom poutine, we’re saluting the staple mother sauce of all households, which used to be a tin of cream of mushroom soup.”
The “poutine” variation comes with a house made gravy that’s about as far from Campbell’s as you can imagine, slathered over shoestring fries, curds and mushroom chips. It might easily become addictive. And it’s a no brainer to go with a decent pint from a pretty good range of smaller craft taps. ($12)
Other good tastes: a formidable bison burger, with caramelised onion, bacon, pickle and cheddar, that just plain delicious—served with fries or salad ($16); and, yet one more looming addiction, assertively spiced, sticky and wonderful chicken wings with chili maple glaze. ($11) Perfect with Powell Street Divebomb Porter.
There’s more Canadiana, such as the “Shore lunch” with Ocean Wise fish as available, elk tourtière, a Caesar salad with herring dressing, jowl bacon, fried garlic and bannock, and perogies (of course).
For dessert: deep fried Nanaimo bars (with ‘double-double custard’)—and, yes, there are Timber Bits, with house made ‘nutella.’
Timber, 1300 Robson St., Vancouver, BC. Phone nbr and website to come
See you there!
My hunch is, as a much needed addition to the West End, it will be hopping.
Plus, for some reason, it has me humming that tune…