Restaurant Guide 2013: Little Bird

219 SW 6th Ave., 688-5952,

[LE BURGER] Little Bird is an unusual find in a city of Portland's size: a beautifully welcoming bistro with the highest professional standards without an ounce of pretension. It's the kind of place where you could get all dolled up for three courses on your anniversary, and then come back two nights later in a T-shirt to grab a crepe at the bar. The food is a memorable mix between classic French ingredients and unexpected twists. A foie gras torchon comes wrapped in duck prosciutto, served with pickled cherries and on slices of toasted brioche smoked in lapsang souchong. The prosciutto echoes the cherries' sweetness, but their tang cuts the creaminess of the foie gras and finds echoes in the black tea. The chicken-fried trout ($22) is at once fresh and savory, French and American, with a serving of tangy gribiche sauce in lieu of gravy, and plenty of radishes and carrots to provide extra crunch. Also, it takes some serious couilles to put fallen soufflés on the menu. Speaking of meringues, the desserts run the risk of outshining the whole shebang—a creme brulee, with more of those seasonal pickled cherries, was one of the best I've ever had.

Ideal meal: An $11 appetizer of fennel sausage, pepper jam and fallen soufflé, plus a $12 butter lettuce salad, is a fantastic light dinner for two.

Best deal: The $12 Le Pigeon burger is a marvel among Portland burgerdom, but the early and late-night specials are just as good of a bargain.

Pro tip: Walk-ins sometimes have trouble landing a table but are welcome at the gleaming copper bar, behind which presides an exceptionally friendly, knowledgeable bartender.

11:30 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 5 pm-midnight Saturday-Sunday. $$$.


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