If you can know the mind of the chef from his charcuterie board, Gabe Rucker is a little nutty.

The meat plate at Little Bird changes at whim, but rather than the expected little batch of pork rillettes, you might get a layer cake of shockingly tasty pig's ear terrine with fat in folds (developed by sous chef Marcelle Crooks), chicharon bits coated in spice, a duck confit mountain atop deviled eggs, or a tiny, delicate corn dog filled with the stuff inside a pig's head.

Steak tartare gets a board to itself, and might come topped in goat cheese. Le Pigeon's Rucker has returned to the Little Bird Kitchen this year (he's there Fridays and Saturdays) after chef Erik van Kley departed to form Taylor Railworks, and the menu has been in heavy play, with the irreverent upscale-downscale wit Rucker's known for: A coq au vin has fried chicken, a seeming companion piece to the trademark chicken-fried trout. Just don't neglect the traditional Little Bird oysters, however, and especially don't forget to drink.

Photo: Lauren Kinkade
Photo: Lauren Kinkade

The cocktails, which hover at $10, are just as playful and successful as the food. The old creme de menthe tooth-cleaner, the Stinger, receives a hefty update—Little Bird's version mixes rum, cognac and sherry with a mint fernet to make something approaching poetry. The little bird's rivaling the big one theses days.

Pro tip: The bar is a much different experience than those quiet tables among people on early dates and buttoned-up business folk—more casual and, frankly, a lot more fun.

GO: 215 SW 6th Ave., 688-5952, littlebirdbistro.com. 11:30 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 5 pm-midnight Saturday-Sunday. $$$.