Considering how many little vinocentric bistros are sprinkled around this town, it's almost a shame the best gets lost in the carnival of Division. The next time your date suggests clambering into the herd at Bollywood Theater, counter with this low-key gem.
Then, keep the wine list close to your vest. "Bar" is in the name because you're meant to drink here, selecting from a large list of mostly French bottles from Beaujolais and Bordeaux. For the couple casually dropping $110 on a Yamhill brut rosé, the Vermont-made bijou ($7) and a house rabbit sausage served with ground cherries still in their papery husks ($6) might as will be a packet of saltines. But if you pair it with a $2 pounder of PBR, it's almost like stealing.
The menu is seasonal, so specific suggestions are of little use. But please note that this place has mastered the art of making a roast chicken with crisp, flavorful skin. Also, a plate of seared Oregon albacore with wax beans delivers all the nutrients you need without cluttering the stomach too much for that third glass of wine.
And do remember the pasta—we loved red pepper fettuccine with glazed peanut and cilantro flour. Things are going so well you'd like to linger for dessert? Well, the mud pie sundae has smoked salt ganache, whipped cream with the consistency of molten marshmallow, and spicy peanuts atop chili-inflected ice cream.
Pro tip: Wanna be sure your date doesn't end up ordering a $100 bottle? Just pay the $20 corkage fee and bring whatever you want.
GO: 2138 SE Division St., 517-0808, baravignon.com. 5 pm-close nightly. $$$