Restaurant Roulette Recombobbled – THE DINING REPORT

Belly Timber – Welcome To 2008 With A 1850s Vibe

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Okay, okay, I take it back. About three weeks ago, I wrote that that the environs of the Hawthorne neighborhood are not for me. I still am not overly crazy about Hawthorne itself, like the rude people who just stroll out in front of your car like it is their God Given Right not to be run over by your vehicle, whether or not you technically have the right away by law. Main drag Hawthorne, forget it. The Sunnyside neighborhood, just north of Hawthorne, however, what a magical sort of place. I say this because after our most recent RRR (Restaurant Roulette Recombobled) dinner at Belly Timber, Pam and I took a short stroll, about two square blocks, directly behind the restaurant, just next to Sunnyside School, and saw such great old houses, I could stroll here for hours. Sure, I totally love impressive neighborhoods like Laurelhurst full of those elegantly maintained Craftsmen Bungalows with their wonderfully designed gardens and flower beds. This Sunnyside neighborhood though, what a fascinating collection of funky old Victorians (and older) with their imaginative and often whacked-out paint jobs. Many of the yards aren’t as fancy, but the collection of houses themselves, quaint and almost awe-inspiring. Way to do it, Sunnyside!

IMG_0443.JPGOkay, on to Belly Timber. I was feeling a bit cocky after our Restaurant Elite dinner at Lauro, as the few people I notified about it happening said yes immediately, and I never even got a chance to send out a regular R.S.V.P. The Belly Timber dinner brought me back to the harsh realities of current hard times, though, as well as reminding me of those divided interests people have during the summer months, as I could barely gather enough people together for this dinner. Sure, the four people I finally cajoled to join me were first rate, but it’s always rather embarrassing when you originally reserve a table for 10, and end up with five people. I don’t think the restaurant was really to blame, although totally new, the Belly Timber menu is relatively impressive, most prices are “reasonable,” and who doesn’t want to have a meal in a interesting old house? Several people were out of town, out of the country, on their way out of town, attending concerts, or economizing, so five of us was it.

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I said much about the Belly Timber space two reviews ago, when I went to the pre-opening, so I’m going to try to keep my remarks minimal in this area, at least as minimal as I am capable of (no comment.) When Pam and I arrived at Belly Timber we were actually the last ones to get there, as only 17 minutes earlier we had left the Airport Way Home Depot after an important but time consuming errand (but one with a fun surprise, as we ran into wayward RR members Tori and Dave, unaware we were even having a dinner that night, who were stocking up on gorilla glue. So if you want to hang out with Tori and Dave, just remember, Airport Way Home Depot.) I guess we didn’t have to hurry so much, as I don’t think Belly Timber would have given out table away, as we were the only people there at 6:30. Owner Michelle welcomed us by actually remembering me from the pre-opening party, and we proceeded to our table, exactly where Pam and I had sat last time, in the metallic sage room in front of the restroom hallway. I noticed some photos on the wall that I had not noticed last time, and Pam thought they were new (we had commented that the space was a bit austere previously.) The photos were pretty modern black and white things though, and as Jody commented on, didn’t really add much to the Victorian vibe. Those lovely little stained glass windows were glowing though, and my favorite, over the bar, was radiating beautiful illumination with the summer sun shining through from the west. (more…)