Little Bird: Restaurant Guide 2014

215 SW 6th Ave., 688-5952, littlebirdbistro.com

[BIRDIE, NOT EAGLE] Earlier this year, le petit oiseau bid adieu to the item that launched it. That was the Le Pigeon burger, the cult favorite Gabe Rucker originally served in super-limited quantities at his restaurant on East Burnside Street, which gave protege Erik Van Kley a built-in following when Little Bird opened in late 2010 with it on his permanent menu. With Little Bird successfully established, Van Kley replaced the burger with his own ($12), topped with funky goat cheese, grilled onions and disappointment. It's part of the steady shift that's found him taking ownership of the menu. Van Kley's fare, at least in summer, was overall far lighter than Rucker's no-stick-spared fare. Sheep cheese gnocchi ($14) with a puree of heirloom tomatoes, willowy mint leaves and a little pecorino were wonderful, while an olive-cured tuna loin was perfectly rare but lost some pop when dressed with creamy vichyssoise soup. There's a deep wine list and a shallow but well-chosen beer list, but don't sleep on the cocktails, especially the beautifully tart Journaliste ($10) with rhum, curaçao, apricot and lots of lime. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Pro tip:

The cheese plate ($13), with candied pecans, honeycomb and an excellent raw sheep's milk cheese from Washington, is far above average.

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