Local Chef and Restaurateur, Jared Clarke, has become masterful at taking made-from-scratch comfort foods and turning them into high-quality, mouth-watering meals in comfortable and inviting restaurants.
Chef Clarke is the innovator and owner of Railcar Modern American Kitchen, an Omaha foodie favorite that pays homage to Clarke’s ancestry and to the foods and recipes traveling immigrants brought to Omaha via the transcontinental railways. A desire for continual learning paired with dreaming up and creating new recipes and concepts, Clarke recently opened oven doors to his new and eagerly awaited Timber Wood Fire Bistro, nestled in The Countryside Village Shopping Center.
Clarke, originally from Fairbury, Neb., has always been an eager student of culinology and got his start as a college student cooking for his brother and friends. “My brother and I shared a one-bedroom apartment when we went to UNL,” Clarke said. “We had movie nights and invited friends over. I would cook for them, and I really enjoyed that.” Clarke was studying biochemistry at UNL when he decided culinary school was a better fit for him. He went to Southeast Community College, a Culinary Accredited School, and after graduating went back to UNL and graduated with a degree in Culinology.
In December of 2012, Clarke opened his first restaurant; The Railcar, a friendly and cozy eatery that offers made-from-scratch comfort food and craft cocktails. On the heels of Railcar’s success, and always thinking about new restaurant concepts and dining experiences, Clarke opened Timber in early 2017 to rave reviews and happy, well-fed diners.
The concept for Timber was one that smoldered within Clarke for a bit before becoming reality. “I wanted a wood-fire restaurant for a long time. I like the show, smell, and feel of fire.” Clarke said the oven in Timber’s kitchen is a hybrid grill oven that has to have wood to operate; it will not function without it. The grill itself is made of wood and heats up to 900 degrees, which Clarke said creates a nice sear. The kitchen is an open concept, which puts on a great show. “I want to have fun with Midwest cuisine.”
The name Timber is directly related to the wood used in Clarke’s food. Diners will instantly feel welcome upon entering Timber with its unique charm as metal meets wood and local art hangs on the walls. The wood-burning aromas will tantalize the palate in this comfortable, yet chic and sophisticated atmosphere. Diners will enjoy all of the special touches at Timber such as the in-house, made-from-scratch foods including the freshly baked sourdough bread service with herbed California olive oil and/or locally whipped butter.
The menu is made up mouthwatering starters, Pissaladiere (French style pizzas), house made pastas, nightly specials, desserts and so much more. Modern cocktails, wines, and bottled and draft beers round out the menu, making for a savory and satisfying dining experience from start to finish.
Clarke has many menu recommendations, but the Prohibition Black Chicken, a gluten free menu item, tops the list. “This is a throwback to coq au vin,” he said. “We brine the chicken in red wine then roast it. The idea goes back to the Prohibition Era when farmers would ask other farmers to borrow eggs, milk, and a black chicken, which was code for wine.” Prohibition Black Chicken is Cabernet cured with herb essence, garlic juice and served with potato rosti.
Chef Clarke urges those who love ribs to try the Milanese Baby Back Ribs. “We rub the ribs with pancetta and fresh herbs.” He cooks the ribs Sous Vide, as the ribs are placed in a vacuum-sealed pouch then placed in a water bath. The Milanese Baby Back Ribs are pancetta-rubbed with peach mostarda and grilled baby bok choy.
Timber is open for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and reverse happy hour. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday and offers a selection of unlimited adult beverages. Timber has a catering menu, take-out menu, private party rooms, and kids and weekly specials.
Timber has enjoyed continued success since opening its doors. “We have been open for seven months, and it’s going well.” Clarke said. As far as the future for more Clarke restaurants, he only smiled and said that he is always thinking of new concepts. But he made a point to say he is happy to be in Omaha and is enjoying what is happening locally with food and dining. “Omaha has grown a lot in that respect, it is very open minded. More talented chefs are coming to Omaha. And I can definitely do new things, diners trust me. It’s nice to be able to do that.”