Little Bird Bistro
You do not have to, in the instantly-immortal words of Portlandia, “put a bird on it” at this beautiful, thoughtfully-designed Paris-meets-Portland bistro, because someone already did. No, really. There are little birds everywhere. Little birds peeking out from various crevices and hidey-holes, little birds tucked into the wine rack, a dainty flock of really little snow-white ceramic birds flying across the bathroom wall, and gangs of glittery-eyed hoodlum crows skulking around outside the front door casing the shiny pressed tin ceilings. All right, so maybe that last one is an exaggeration, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Late hours, a central location, and flexible offerings make Little Bird an inviting downtown destination regardless of the hour (they’re open until midnight) or your craving—stop in for a glass of wine and a charcuterie board or reserve a dark red leather banquette for a leisurely supper.
The brainchild of Portland culinary icon Le Pigeon’s Executive Chef Gabriel Rucker and General Manager Andrew Fortgang, Little Bird’s kitchen is helmed by longtime Le Pigeon Sous Chef Erik Van Kley. The menu is a much simpler, plus-size version of its older sibling’s, and zeroes in on beloved, expertly-executed French bistro classics like steak frites, coq au vin, and marrow bones. Dessert is orchestrated by the very talented Lauren Fortgang, who spins sweet fantasies like the alabaster cylinder of coconut cake flanked by a wickedly flavorful passionfruit sorbet and an ethereal milk chocolate hazelnut financier topped with candied kumquats.
Late hours, a central location, and flexible offerings make it an inviting downtown destination regardless of the hour (they’re open until midnight) or your craving—stop in for a glass of wine and a charcuterie board or reserve a dark red leather banquette for a leisurely supper. You may prefer to hug the gleaming copper bar or see and be seen in the main dining room, but in my opinion the best seat in the house (provided you don’t suffer from acrophobia) is the tiny corner two-top hugging the balcony. From this perch, you can observe the entire restaurant in motion, almost to the point of complete distraction if you’re a shameless voyeur like me. You’ll also be the first to know if the crows decide to storm the ramparts and make off with the ceiling tiles.
Executive Chef: Erik Van Kley
Pastry Chef: Lauren Fortgang
Atmosphere: Beautiful, lively faux-French dining experience with a fun bar and plenty of feathered decor
Outdoor seating: Yes, two sidewalk tables
Best Seat: Front left table in the loft
Noise Level: Quite loud when it's full, especially in the bar
Dress Code: Casual to dressy, you'll be fine regardless
Bring the Kids: No
Bathrooms: In the back of the bar, and down the hallway to the right of the stairs.
Parking: Street parking is metered and can be very challenging to find
Cocktails: Full bar, signature cocktails
Beer: Three draft beers $5-$6, a half dozen bottled beers $4-$1o
Wine: 20 or so by the glass ($7-$16) and great French-centric bottle list
Teetotalers: Housemade lemonade and soda, Dry Soda, Fever Tree ginger beer, iced tea, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite
Tea: Steven Smith
Ideal Meal: Charred ham salad, Corona beans with lardons, smoked trout and buttermilk blini, moules frites, duck leg cassoulet, hanger steak, chocolate profiteroles, house bon bons
Vegetarian Friendly: Not really, but a few dishes are
Good for the following occasions: Dinner With Friends, Dinner With Colleagues, Special Occasion, Date Night, Feeling French
Reservations: Yes, call 503.688.5952 or reserve online at Open Table
Deals: At lunchtime, take advantage of the $25 three course prix fixe, three gorgeous courses including a dessert, and pair it with the $4 half martini