FOOD FIGHT: Timber falls like a freshly logged tree

The food looks better than it ultimately tastes.

Timber, a relatively new gastropub on Vancouver’s Robson Street, is a thumbs-down from me.

Their brand is endearing, being a “Canadian comfort” gastropub, and they covered all the requirements: the waitstaff are dressed in plaid shirts and denim, the furnishings are polished wood and concrete with high ceilings, the TVs broadcast sports, and their menu is bursting at the seams with beer and Canadian comfort food. The ambience is as you can imagine: the interior very trendy, and reeks of the high-end hipster culture notorious in Vancouver.

So what went wrong? After trying three out of the four vegetarian mains they offer, I reluctantly gave up trying to love this place. What you get for what you pay doesn’t make the restaurant a worthwhile favourite.

Let’s start with the bannock, spicy maple, and haskap berry chutney: the bannock itself was well-done, neither too greasy nor too dense — really, how can you fuck up fried bread? The spicy maple was non-existent, though. The flavour impact just wasn’t there even with the chutney, making the dish rather bland and uninspired.

About Timber’s mushroom poutine: It was one of the most horrifying food experiences of my entire life. But first, let me defend the concept of mushroom poutine for a minute: poutine is great, mushrooms are great, you can do spectacular things when you put them together with maybe some sautéed mushrooms and spicy mushroom gravy. I had these high expectations, and they were crushed and marinated in a dense, cream-based, gritty mushroom soup just like my fries were.

Like the bannock, it had a good base: they didn’t screw up the fries, God bless them, and their cheese curds seemed to be high-quality. But they traded off gravy for this horrifying, cream-based, gritty soup and it was straight-up gross. I was actually quite confused when the dish arrived, for the menu clearly stated “mushroom gravy.” I gave it the benefit of the doubt and tried it. Moral of the story: don’t give it the benefit of the doubt, and try something else.

The mac ‘n’ cheese was super below-average. The taste was there, but the sauce should have been creamier and given some flavour. The idea of spicy mac ‘n’ cheese is fascinating, yet they just put a fetus-sized portion of sriracha-ketchup on top and that was it. The smoked potato crackling on top was flavourful but much too hard to chew and contradicted the soft mac and cheese too much to be enjoyed together.

Their happy hour snacks were satisfactory: the ketchup chips were their peak point, and their happy hour drinks consisted of but one beer. That’s offensive, though at least the beer was Canadian. Some of their cocktails were interesting and innovative, although the prices made me weep.

The vegetarian dishes were just the worst. My friend, who tried the duck burger on special, really enjoyed the potato salad, but found the duck to be so fatty she couldn’t bite into it and had to aggressively use a fork and knife.

Timber was, in a word, anticlimactic.