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Welcome to the Timbers! Aug 1 08

The Reuben sandwich is the acid test. At least, thatís what I told my waitress at the The Timbers Inn southeast of Rockford, and I think itís a darned good standard.

Think about it: when have you ever found a restaurant that served a truly fabulous Reuben? I donít mean an acceptable one or even a decent oneóI mean a Reuben youíll go out of your way for, with flavorfully marinated, home-cooked corned beef that holds together obediently between slices of toasted, marbled rye bread, but that falls apart the instant you bite into it. Thatís the kind of Reuben sandwich youíll find at The Timbers, and itís an excellent indicator of the overall quality of food that awaits you.

But the food is just part of the attraction at The Timbers Inn. Ambience, my friendóitís about ambience. If youíre the outdoorsy type, you will love the feel of this place. From the time you set foot in the door, The Timbers sets the tone and draws you in with its warm, hunting lodge atmosphere.

To the left is the main dining area, with its gracious, natural wood environment, chandeliers, and large fieldstone fireplace in the center to warm your spirits during a snowy Michigan winter. Iíve eaten here many times since the restaurant opened fourteen years ago in 1994óoften just by myself, sitting in one of the window booths with a plateful of wild game casserole, a glass of Scotch ale, and a good book.

On this occasion, however, I took a right from the foyer and headed into the tavern, where I found myself a booth with a window overlooking the patio. It was mid-afternoon on a weekday, and apart from a foursome sitting at a table, I was the only diner.

Itís hard to describe the tavern, but Iíll start by saying that it is designed to appeal to the senses. The tavern is a winsome combination of spaciousness and clutter, elegance and roughness, and the overall effect is comfort. Taxidermy abounds, from the large moose head presiding over the massive bar, to trophy fish suspended from the ceiling, to a black bear taking a startling leap out of the side of a fireplace. As in the main dining room, youíll also see a scattering of wildlife paintings and outdoorsy knickknacks and curiosónot commanding attention, but inviting it.

Mandy was my waitressófriendly, conversational, attentive, and the bearer of a truly stellar Reuben. Yes, the Reuben really was just that good. And that points to the menu as a whole. From the wild rice soup and buffalo chili, to the various Angus beef and buffalo burgers, to entrees such as blackened shark, Canadian walleye, and Szechuan roasted duck, you simply canít go wrong. As for beverages, while the wine list appears ample, my own qualifications are those of a beer aficionado. In that capacity I can speak credibly. Iím pleased to report a sufficient supply of local microbrews, some worthy imports, and worthwhile on-tap selections such as Founderís Pale Ale, Guinness Stout, and Newcastle Brown Ale.

The Timbers Inn Restaurant and Tavern. Dress up or dress down; take your mate on a date, or head there with your buddies after a day of fishing or hunting. Whether in the gracious interior with its rustic elegance, or outdoors on the patio with scents from the herb garden drifting by on the breeze, this is the place to go when you want to make the Michigan outdoors a part of your dining experience.



Written by Dave.