Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Canadian comfort food re-invented at Timber

Timber 1300 Robson | 604-661-2166 | Open Monday-Thursday, 11am-1am; Friday & Saturday, 10am-1am; Sunday, 10am-midnight. It seems like comfort food has been done to death in Vancouver.
Nosh 0310
Chef de cuisine Joseph Gosselin (L), chef/owner Chris Whittaker (C), and sous chef Richard Courtoreilli (R).


1300 Robson | 604-661-2166 |

Open Monday-Thursday, 11am-1am; Friday & Saturday, 10am-1am; Sunday, 10am-midnight.


It seems like comfort food has been done to death in Vancouver. You can’t throw a hand-tossed bowl without hitting “elevated” mac ‘n’ cheese, custom-ground burgers with “tomato jam” or “rustic” flatbreads loaded with bacon and “artisanal” cheese. It’s rather disingenuous, however, for the most part, and often seems like an excuse to over-charge for lacklustre dishes with a few premium ingredients thrown in.

Not so at Timber. The food is comforting, absolutely, and the ingredients are of impeccable provenance, thanks to chef/owner Chris Whittaker’s long-standing preference for local products, including many that he grows and forages himself. What began next door at sister restaurant, Forage, has continued in a more casual way at Timber. A trio of bannock buns ($9) come drizzled with a lightly-spiced maple syrup and haskap berry chutney. Never heard of haskap? It’s also known as “honeyberry” or “edible honeysuckle” as it’s a shrub native to northern climes in Russia and Japan (“haskap” is, in fact, the Japanese name for this berry), and now, Canada, thanks to the fruit-breeding program at the University of Saskatchewan. Related to tomatoes and elderberries, this blue berry becomes raisin-like in the chutney, and has an almost pungent sweetness. 

Nosh 0310
Source: Nelson Mouellic photos
Nosh 0310

Mushroom poutine ($12) is loaded with authentic curds, a rich mushroom gravy made from local foraged varieties that’s really a cream, and mushroom chips that give a satisfying textural contrast to all of that ooey-gooey goodness. If you really want to elevate it, get some of the house-smoked brisket on top ($6). Ridiculously moist and flavourful, it’s worth ordering on its own. Game tourtière ($20) has a rotating protein, but the elk one night was fantastic.

Some items still need a bit of work, such as the chicken wings ($11). The salt and pepper versions were juicy but bland, and the blue cheese dip was indistinguishable from ranch. Better was the sidestripe club (I’m hoping this will be made with spot prawns during the season). Loaded with bacon and avocado, and swiped with a shellfish “mayo,” it’s a sandwich not to be missed, despite it’s $20 price tag.

Fitting in nicely with the casual theme is the drinks list, which leans heavily on draft and bottled beer, as well as some decent wines by the glass. Themed cocktails range from the simple Cucumber Gimlet (gin, lime, simple syrup, cucumber) to the more complex Tree Planter (gin, Douglas fir syrup, lime, black pepper and whisky bitters) and some intriguing bourbon-based varieties I’ve yet to try.

The best thing about Timber is that it really is all of a piece, including the bright, warm and woodsy room. And, the small kinks that are to be expected in the opening month of any restaurant are sure to smooth out with time. Timber is, pardon the pun, a solid concern and one worth revisiting.


Food: ★★★1/2

Service: ★★★

Ambiance: ★★★

Value: ★★★

Overall: ★★★

All ratings out of five stars.

*: Okay, nothing memorable.

**: Good, shows promise.

***: Very good, occasionally excellent.

****: Excellent, consistently above average.

*****: Awe-inspiring, practically perfect in every way.


Anya Levykh is a freelance food, drink and travel writer who covers all things ingestible. In addition to obsessively collecting cookbooks, she is a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @foodgirlfriday.