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Bringing the outdoors inside at Johnson City’s Timber!

Mystery Diner • Sep 11, 2019 at 7:30 AM

Nathan Brand is a restaurateur who recently opened Timber! a restaurant with an outdoors theme in Johnson City’s West Walnut Street corridor. Brand has partnered with Kevin Masters, food and beverage guru of Wellington’s at the Carnegie Hotel, and has a firm commitment that the Timber! pantry is filled with “Farm to Table” sustainable products from all across the five-state area. A stickler for freshness in his menu’s ingredients, Brand shops locally; one supplier is just next door at the Tree Streets Community Garden.

Timber! can be found at 415 W. Walnut St. There is ample parking available. Access to the front door is through a compact patio set with picnic tables, potted plants and a bicycle rack. The inside dining area has table seating for 60 patrons or so and is kid-friendly. There is a well-stocked bar with a nicely-curated wine selection for consumption before, during or after your meal. Further back are the functional but tidy rest rooms. The dining area walls continue the outdoors theme; there are several topographical maps from the U.S. Geological Survey are available for inspection. Instead of the usual flat screen TV is a carousel slide projector that shows a rotating series of 1960s Kodachrome slides featuring somebody’s family trip to Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful geyser and all.

Madeline, our capable server, steered us through the Timber! ordering procedure. Find a seat, then step up to the ordering and takeout counter and start a tab by placing your order. Place your order number prominently on your table and have a seat; your order will be brought to your table in due course. After you’ve finished dining, ask for your tab and pay. In our case, there was a long line at the counter, but Madeline graciously took the orders of the dine-around bunch, and brought our order number back to the table.

Chicken wings: My dining partner ordered a plate of the chicken wings ($9) that were complete, its tibia-fibula still attached to humerus and baked to a turn with sticky umami sauce, diced scallions and sesame seeds. Madeline also provided my dining partner with two wet-wipes, stating “Here you go; you will need both of these.” Another 15 minutes and my dining partner was wiping the last of the sticky umami sauce off the big smile on her face. “These are the best chicken wings I’ve had in a long time,” she said.

Burger: The Carnivore spotted his dinner lounging at the top of the Timber! menu’s Column Two. Intriguingly titled “burger” ($12 including the menu’s lower case spelling), this proved to be a double patty of 100% beef topped with bourbon onions, mayonnaise and some white American cheese on a Lazy Lady Bakery hamburger bun. With fresh-cut French fries made from potatoes grown at Rain Crow Farms and a ramekin of some garlic mayonnaise for dipping, my friend the Carnivore was very pleased with his menu choice.

Smoked & marinated tofu sandwich: I chose the smoked & marinated tofu sandwich ($8), with fresh-cut fries for my side order. Three one-quarter-inch thick slices of cooked tofu were topped with house-made cabbage & onion slaw, chili coriander and some From the Heart’s “Vegenaise” to hold it all together. The sandwich as a whole proved to be quite tasty, although the tofu was saltier than I was accustomed to. My fries were lukewarm and rubbery, though they did taste good dipped in garlic mayonnaise.

Vegetable Platter: The Retiree and the Dieter decided to “eat healthy” and ordered the Vegetable Platter ($16) a tour de force of local produce from farms committed to quality and sustainability in what they grow. Starting with smoked potato cakes, the two friends shared a salad made from brown rice, parsley, sesame seeds and chopped pecans. They also enjoyed ripened cherry tomatoes along with fresh kernel corn. The seared okra topped with a turmeric yogurt that wasn’t to the friends’ taste, so I got some and found it went very well with the tofu sandwich on my plate.

Smoked Vanilla Ice Cream: Down at the bottom of the Timber! menu was the dessert section, containing only two desserts, smoked vanilla ice cream ($4) and a s’mores sundae ($7). Upon ordering, the dine-around bunch and I soon discovered that the smoked feature was created by sprinkling some smoked sea salt from Bulls Bay Saltworks on top of the ice cream. This made for an interesting taste (though not to everyone) blending as it did the smoky salt flavor and the sweetness and creamy texture of the vanilla ice cream.

S’Mores Sundae: Brand’s take on a campfire icon is the S’mores Sundae ($7), where an enameled metal camp bowl in classic red enamel finished with white speckles contains a base of graham cracker crumbles on which a scoop of smoked vanilla ice cream is drizzled in melted chocolate, dolloped in blowtorched marshmallow cream. Is it any wonder that I had to order four extra spoons so my friends could also have a taste to wake their own memories?

The bottom line: Brand’s new idea is now a reality. Brand relies on food sourced from local sustainable sources, curated to have the same commitment to quality and excellence that he does. Because of the cyclical nature of the foodstuffs produced by these local farmers, his farm-to-table menu’s savory palette of flavors and textures will follow the seasons. This means that the entrees and desserts found at Timber! will change constantly. It also means the dine-around bunch and I will be back just as constantly, enjoying every forkful.

Timber!

415 W. Walnut St.

Johnson City

Wed.-Sat.: 3-10 p.m.

Sun.: Noon until 8 p.m.

Available on Facebook & social media

Credit cards accepted

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