Way up on 29N, way up there, just when you think you’ve left Charlottesville for the vast, empty wasteland that is the space between Cville and let’s say Warrenton, you will find a great little place to eat. Nothing fancy, but very tasty. They serve burgers, beer, other things, and have a patio strung with tiny white lights for eating al fresco. What more do you need? You might think it’s a fast food joint – there’s a lot of those on this stretch of 29 just across from the Target near the entrance to Forest Lakes. But in fact it’s a local place. And it’s called the Timberwood Grill.
The husband and I have eaten at the Timberwood Grill several times since we moved to Charlottesville from Pittsburgh last April. It’s close, which has become increasingly important since we moved to the boondocks. It’s also convenient – just a little over and straight down 29. It’s also the comfort food of restaurants – serving your basic All-American fare – burgers, beer, steaks, seafood, salads, and your basic appetizers of nachos and what have you. During a hard week of work, let’s say probably by Wednesday, you’re in need of a mid-week treat. You don’t want to be too adventurous. Nothing on the menu that you can’t pronounce. It’s more you want to be pampered by familiarity. You want to know what to expect. Timberwood delivers that.
Their burgers are huge and delicious. Basic bacon cheeseburger with slice of red onion, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. I’ve ordered other things (crab dip) which taste fine, but I always end up back at the burger. And the fries are out of this world. Fried twice, really crunchy. Imagine Arby’s curly fries that are way better.
It’s gotten so when I’ve had a really sucky week I start to crave a burger and mug of Dogfish Head IPA. Did I mention the beer? The first time we came here to eat we ordered mugs of beer, thinking they were smaller than the pints. Wrongo! These mugs are HUGE, frosty behemoths – so big you have to hold it in two hands. Pickle barrels of beer. Yummy pickle barrels full of beer. A yard of beer. Remember Dan from “Roseanne” when he visits England at Disney’s Epcot and the waitress asks if he’d like a yard of beer? He asks, “Pray tell, what is a YARD of beer?” Yeah, at Timberwood I feel like that. “Pray tell, what is a MUG of beer?” It’s wunnerful.
There’s just nothing like sitting under those tiny white lights on a summer night, listening to the traffic whizzing by Target (okay maybe that’s not so great) sipping a yard, I mean mug of beer and chomping down on a juicy burger. It takes the aggravation of the week dead away. All summer we’ve sat under those lights on a date night when we just felt like something familiar. We’ve been there so often I forgot to review the place! Which is kind of a hallmark of a great place – it’s so familiar it feels like home and isn’t a restaurant.
The service isn’t that great – just a bunch of high school kids it seems like, but they get the job done. Here the service isn’t really part of the equation – it’s the atmosphere that’s the thing. In a weird way, Timberwood has recreated the feeling of someone’s living room or porch. It doesn’t feel all that much like a restaurant, but like a pair of old slippers. Comfy old slippers. When we feel like crap and need a break, we come eat here. When my brother-in-law was visiting because he was sad, going through a separation, we brought him to Timberwood Grill. Their Chuck Norris burger helped set things to rights. When my cousin comes to visit in a few weeks, guess where we’re going?
On our last visit to eat we noticed new construction – they’re expanding the dining room. Obviously Timberwood is doing something right. We walked outside to the patio, passing the indoor booths of pale wood and a bar surrounded by flat screen televisions to get to our seats under the tiny white lights once again. Something tells me when cold weather finally descends, as it seems to have the past week or so, we’ll get to enjoy the inside too. All those hoity-toity foodies at the Downtown Mall fighting for tables can have it. When I want comfort and familiarity, mid-week or anytime, I’ll eat at this hidden gem on 29N.