Noble Rot

2724 SE Ankeny St., 233-1999. Dinner Monday-Saturday $$ Moderate.

Noble Rot is the type of dining oasis you'd expect to find tucked away on the side streets of Lyon or Barcelona. At this convivial spot with a long bar that fronts the open kitchen, a solo patron can linger over a small plate and a glass of wine, or grab a table and some friends and make an evening of it. It's a neighborhood place, but it also remains one of the worthiest destinations in the city, especially on a summer evening when its string of outdoor tables breathe life into Southeast Ankeny Street. Here, wine is treated as food, and it's paired well with a banquet of intensely seasonal small plates, including a salad of beets, endives, hazelnuts and blue cheese or the slightly sweet carrot soup with fava beans. The onion tart is always a sure bet, as is the tender duck confit slightly sweetened by roasted turnips with swiss chard and a briny duck jus. Do not skip dessert, especially if the spongy olive-oil cake with seasonal fruit is on the roster. (MT)

Signature dish: The benchmark

mac 'n' cheese.

Standouts: Crème brûlée and a truly thoughtful wine list.

Regrets: That Noble Rot runs out of choice outdoor tables on warm summer evenings.