Bathed in the holy light of stained glass, the four of us managed to completely pack Portland's smallest bar as our pontiff Bradley Dawson poured soul quenching tonics and the kitchen of David Siegel issued forth our cheeseburger communion. Belly Timber shows equal devotion to diverse seasonal dishes as well as craft cocktails from it's cloistered Victorian on SE 32nd & Hawthorne. My penance on this outing would be a few cocktails, a burger, and a bit of marrow.
Oh, and there were cocktails, my favorite of the afternoon being:
Oranges preserved at the bar in allspice and equal parts sugar/salt lend a great savory funkiness to the woody, sweet, and dry characteristics of this incredibly refreshing cocktail. It would be all too easy to unexpectedly lose an afternoon thoughtlessly guzzling these down. I'll also add that it's a perfect mate to the much ballyhooed BT Burger.
The BT Burger was the winner in a recent online poll for Portland's best burger, so my expectations were high, and quickly met. A divinely rich patty had a good char, the cheese was perfectly rich, the bun buttery, and with it's cool, shockingly high quality fresh veggies, it achieved that wondrous alchemy of opposing temperatures, textures, and flavors that distinguishes great burgers from the merely good. Best burger in Portland? I'm not comfortable saying that, but damn if it isn't perfectly executed.
But what's a burger without fries?
Belly Timber's fries are clearly a point of pride, from the elegant presentation, to the indulgent bone marrow aioli. Frighteningly crisp, yet with soft pillowy potato inside these also carry a richness I couldn't quite identify, but that might be due to my slathering them in the inner bone of some poor bovine. The cow's loss is my gain, these are right up there with Portland's best - don't come in without ordering them. If you must for some terrible reason choose to avoid fried starch, the fried chickpeas are equally well executed little gems that I'd freebase if I could keep them lit.
Nobody has to go through the effort of putting marrow in their aioli, striving after almost perfect fries, sourcing produce from micro urban growers, crafting a near perfect burger, or making their own amari - but Belly Timber does. Although sometimes marginalized as a neighborhood joint (because it's in a cutesy house?), there's passion, creativity, and just downright effort here that deserves respect and recognition.Belly Timber