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Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine. Follow her on Twitter: @claireeats

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Posted: July 29, 2014

Timber in Portland: An upscale steakhouse with a great patio for drinks

Written by: Claire Jeffers
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Photo by Claire Jeffers.

Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie opened two months ago this week. According to co-owner Noah Talmatch, it didn’t take long for crowds to pack into the posh restaurant on Exchange Street. With a menu that features 100 percent certified Angus beef and one of the state’s largest selections of bourbon, you might say Noah and his brother and business partner, Dan, tapped into the magic formula for a steady clientele.

The name “Timber” is a nod to the Pine Tree State, as is the interior design, which looks like five or six trees were used to accomplish an exact look. Rustic, yet glamorous, daring but simple, Timber’s interior is truly stunning. When designing Timber, Noah wanted a big “wow” factor, but he also aimed to create a calming, natural environment.

Browse all Maine’s watering holes and eateries: Maine Restaurant & Bar Directory

Very unlike the brothers’ first Portland restaurant, The North Point – a cavernous, funky wine bar on Silver Street – Timber might unofficially appeal to more of a dressed up, deep pockets kind of crowd.

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Photo by Claire Jeffers.

However, similar to The North Point, which has an award-winning cocktail list, Timber also offers great happy hour specials, including deals on wine, beer, cocktails and appetizers. Pull up a custom-designed stool – made to be ergonomically correct – at the bar made from two pieces of local red maple, and you will be greeted by Henry Yost, the bar manager, or one of his bartenders. They wear crisp white shirts, black ties and black aprons, and they all can speak knowledgeably about the menu.

For instance, you might notice that the top shelves of the bar at Timber are exclusively lined with bourbon – in total, 81 varieties. What’s different about the cocktail menu at Timber versus the award-winning list at The North Point is that Timber uses its wide selection of bourbons to experiment with recipes – one might use Maker’s Mark, another Knob Creek and another Woodford Reserve.

On a recent night, the $6 happy hour cocktail special was a Strawberry Cobbler, made with Woodford Reserve, fresh strawberry, simple syrup and a sprig of mint. It was sweet, strong and perfect for summer. The wines by the glass are offered for $5 from a selection of 35. And the draughts are all $4, except for Oxbow and Allagash. There are no bottled beers at Timber. Happy hour appetizers are $5 and include batter-fried bacon, French fries and chicken croquettes.

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Photo by Claire Jeffers.

The patio out back has eight tables with five seats each under tiki umbrellas. And “patio” might be too generous a word, for now, but the patched-together look works. To erect a fence, Noah thought to use bourbon oak barrels as a barrier from the back alley and purchased 60 from local breweries that use the barrels to experiment with bourbon-infused brews.

The Talmatch brothers want to create a seamless dining experience and will do anything to make that happen for each customer. So, when its all said and done – whether a fancy steakhouse or a dark, cozy wine bar, Noah says it’s important for everyone to remember that he’s eating at his restaurants, too. How things are run, from start to finish, is what matters the most.

WHERE: 106 Exchange St., Portland
CONTACT: 805-1469;
HOURS: 4-11 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday; 4 p.m.-midnight Thursday; 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; kitchen open until 10 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday; until 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.
SPECIALS: Happy hour 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday offers $4 draughts, $5 wines by the glass (35 to choose from), and $6 house cocktail special.
AMENITIES: Outdoor seating with shade and comfortable seats, plenty of seats at the bar with ergonomically designed stools, hooks for bags and coats under bar, booth seating, stellar service, two clean bathrooms.
PARKING: Street.
BOTTOM LINE: A new steakhouse is in town and the name is Timber. Just two months old, Timber is a popular place for a house-crafted cocktail, bar snacks or a fancy angus beef entrée. Happy hour Monday to Friday will be the best deal, and the patio is a nice alternative to the swanky bar.

Claire Jeffers is a Portland freelance writer.

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