TABLE FOR TWO
Timbers scores big with soccer manager
Harry Gauss says a good restaurant meal can be compared to a goal in soccer -- the key is the buildup.
The general manager of London City of the Canadian Professional Soccer League doesn't get out that often -- he also runs his own soccer store (London Soccer Shops) and is involved with the London Soccer Academy -- but when he does, he looks for the complete package.
"For me, it's a comfort issue. You want to be relaxed," he said over a leisurely lunch at Timbers Chop House.
"It's a service-oriented business -- you need to size up the customer, know when to approach and when to leave alone. A lot of my dealings in restaurants are meetings, where we'll spend a couple of hours or more.
"Everything's important -- the atmosphere, the personnel. The food is the cherry on the cake."
Or the goal, so to speak, and Timbers scores a nice one, starting from the aromas wafting over the outdoor patio as you approach the front door.
Opened in November 1999, replacing the former Musselini's, the two-floor restaurant owned by Jim and Tracy Chioros has a mountain lodge motif -- hence the name -- and a menu that can satisfy any mountain man.
The lunch menu alone can easily be confused for the dinner menu with its considerable range of items. Chops -- veal, lamb and pork -- are the specialties of the house, but there is everything from pasta to fish, steaks, prime rib, lobster, crab and ribs.
Lunch entrees range from $6 to $17, while the dinner entrees range from $10 to $29. A pound of king crab legs will set you back $22.
Gauss chose the filet mignon with baked potato and while he ordered it well done -- something not recommended with that particular cut of meat -- it was done exactly to his liking.
For his salad, he chose a subtle raspberry vinaigrette that didn't overwhelm the greens.
His Free Press interviewer opted for a nicely sized Greek salad, followed by an Angus sirloin that despite its width was perfectly done to medium-rare. His lunch came with mushroom rice, while both had grilled vegetables.
On a recommendation from their server, the two shared a warm cheese crab dip starter that was hot, cheesy and had a decent amount of crab.
Served with corn chips and pita bread triangles, it's a meal in itself.
The wine list is huge, with excellent variety. Tracy Chioros said stocking so many varieties allows more of them to be sold by the glass, further adding to a diner's already plentiful choices.
Topping it off from the dessert tray was a Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecake that bordered on decadent.
While Gauss admitted that's not the normal fare of a soccer player, he said food is still a prime concern for players and managers alike.
"Part of the problem in North America is nutrition isn't as big a part of the game as it is in Europe," he said.
"We're a fast-food society. And quite a few of the injuries we're getting (at London City) are because of nutrition. Soccer in Europe is based on a seven-day cycle.
"Over here, we butcher that by playing three times in five days. When you ask that much of the muscles, they look for something to stabilize.
"A vegetarian diet is great, to a point, but for a soccer player it's tough to be a vegetarian. And carbohydrates can be overdone, too. You like a balance."
On balance, Timbers is a winner.
TIMBERS CHOP HOUSE
855 Wellington Rd.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday;
8 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday; open for Sunday brunch, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ($11).
Lunch: Appetizers and salads, $3-$12; entrées, $6-$17; side orders, $1-$7
Dinner: Appetizers, sides and salads, $1-$22, entrees, $10-$29.
Information: Extensive variety on menu and wine list. All major credit cards accepted.
In Table for Two, people well-known in London are invited by Free Press writers to dine and talk about food at one of their favourite restaurants. Steve Green is a Free Press sports reporter.