Le Pigeon: Restaurant Guide 2014

738 E Burnside St., 546-8796, lepigeon.com

[ORIGINAL GANGSTA] When Gabriel Rucker opened his shoebox-sized, softly lit restaurant in 2006, this was a scruffy stretch of East Burnside without vintage boutiques and sleek faux-motels. Today, Le Pigeon remains unfussy and convivial, with its once-eccentric mix of exposed brick, open kitchen, communal tables and mismatched silverware now de rigueur. The food, vaguely French, brings together unexpected flavor and texture combinations, many of which take advantage of every part of the animal (yes, you can have foie gras profiteroles for dessert). The restaurant's namesake animal is often on the menu, and in August it was served Thai barbecue-style with crispy fried rice, tangy shreds of fermented green papaya and a delicate peanut sauce ($19). Unlike many chefs eight years into a restaurant, Rucker maintains a strong experimental streak, as in a recent cedar plank-roasted salmon that brought together Indian, North African and Greek influences—a garam masala marinade, basil chermoula, spicy garlic and yogurt dressing—in wonderful aromatic and herbal harmony ($33). Oh, and that burger? It's as good as you've heard, and it's no longer limited to five a night. REBECCA JACOBSON.

Pro tip:

For a show with your dinner, grab a spot at the bar and watch the cooks working under the giant burnished copper hood in the open kitchen. Might as well order the chef's tasting menu while you're there, even if adventure ain't cheap: five courses for $75 or seven for $95.

5-10 pm daily. $$$-$$$$.