Last summer I had one of the best meals of my life at Le Pigeon, a tiny French restaurant on East Burnside in Portland run by Gabriel Rucker, one of the most acclaimed chefs in Portland. Around that same time Rucker announced he would be opening a new restaurant in downtown Portland, a French bistro named Little Bird. It finally opened in early December to very good reviews and we've been meaning to make it over there, but didn't make it there until the other day for lunch.
Little Bird is open from 11:30am to midnight Monday through Friday and 5pm to midnight on the weekend. For lunch they serve an array of French favorites as well as Le Pigeon's famous burger.
We were promptly seated, arriving just after 11:30 and before the lunch rush (plenty of office buildings nearby), and served some fresh bread. We decided to order the burger again because it was so good at Le Pigeon, and the coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine). I was intrigued with trying their coq au vin because I had just made my own (this recipe) a short while ago and wanted to see how it stacked up. (As always, click on the pictures to make them larger.)
Little Birds came atop a potato puree with pearl onions, chunks of slab bacon, and mushrooms. On top of the chicken was a slice of toast smothered with chicken liver mousse. The mousse was very rich, decadent, and just the right amount - not sure I could have handled more. The chicken was perfectly done, with a crispy skin and nuanced flavor from the wine sauce. Mushrooms I usually avoid like the plague, but these weren't bad at all when infused with the flavors of the sauce. And the potatoes? Yum!
The burger is apparently quite popular. We were seated in the balcony so we could see everything coming out of the kitchen and at least one-third of all the orders were for the burger. Ours we requested medium and it was cooked perfectly. The flavors were just as we remembered, though it seemed to have a heavier hand with the horseradish. It wasn't enough to be overpowering, but clearly noticeable. The Little Bird version of the burger comes with fries (or salad) cooked in duck fat, which is different than the roasted potatoes Le Pigeon serves - and there were very disappointing. In fact, I think they were burnt, and I didn't get any flavors really at all. Next time? Salad.
Just for fun, here is a gratuitous food porn picture of the burger cut in half:
Looks quite tasty, doesn't it?
We had planned on dessert going in (dessert at Le Pigeon was transcendent...), but for lunch they only had three options. We opted for the bon bon plate, just some small bits of sweet to round out the meal.
Starting from the bottom and going counter clockwise: candied orange peel and kumquats, espresso fudge, salted caramel truffle, pistachio toffee, chocolate peanut butter bon bon, and a huckleberry jam-filled white chocolate bon bon.
All of them were good. The candied orange peel may have been my favorite while Wifey loved the salted caramel truffle. One couldn't go wrong with any of these, really, and it was a nice balance of flavors.
We will definitely go back to Little Bird, probably for dinner next time. Or, maybe we'll just go for dessert!