738 E Burnside St., 546-8796, lepigeon.com.
[LE PERFECT] Alliums. Yes, folks, alliums: the one ratchet in Gabe Rucker's toolbox not deeply analyzed during his Beard Award, book deal, two restaurant-of-the-year nods from a local daily and widespread critical acclaim. But looking closely at the plates on Le Pigeon's late summer menu—not easy by faint candlelight at this snug-fit coop on Burnside—you'll notice Rucker has a special way with bulbs. A tangled nest of tender roasted onions was key to his obscenely rich roasted pigeon ($18), caramelized shallots ground the berry-sweetened baked sturgeon, and the toasty beef cheek bourguignon ($25) gets much of its flavor from garlic and onions. So I think it's the alliums. But really, what isn't it? You could eat out every night for a month while waiting for a reservation at Le Pigeon and still find yourself rooting for the last bulb and soaring out on the pot de creme.
Ideal meal: The menu changes constantly, but I'll suggest the salad, whatever he's doing with the pigeon and the most French thing available. Oh, and the creme brulee that comes with a pot de creme.
Best deal: The burger is $14.
Pro tip: Originally, Le Pigeon only made five burgers a night. Rucker will now make an unlimited number, which is good news if you want to swing through for a quick bite and a beer on a quiet night. But, please, if you make a reservation, order something else.
5-10 pm daily. $$$.