The bar at this airy downtown split-level is bigger than the entire dining room at the cheffy clubhouse on the eastside. It's well-appointed with light blue walls, long red banquettes and towering mirrors that reflect the light pouring through the front windows.
While you can easily grab a seat for lunch or on weekends, when it's 5 o'clock in this particular somewhere, the place packs up with a well-coiffed happy-hour crowd making off with the sloppy double brie burger for the utterly ridiculous price of $5.
The Frenchy menu, again under Rucker's direct oversight after originally serving as a vehicle for Erik Van Kley, is more reserved than Le Pigeon's and doesn't see the same parade of inspired one-offs, but you'll do well with classics like cheesed-up gnocchi ($16), marrow from the grill ($19) or steak frites. Also take note of the small selection of rotating sides—the best dish on my most recent visit was oyster mushrooms with a remarkably steaky consistency dressed in a black garlic vinaigrette with perfect pitch.
Do beware some of the cuter dishes here, like a chicken-fried trout ($26) sopped in a dense, soulless batter, doused in fresh mayonnaise and buried in a mountain of dill.
Eat: The $15 cheese plates are ridiculous, the sides are great values, and anytime you can get that burger for $5, you're basically stealing.
Drink: There's a great wine list, a small but well-chosen beer list and some of the better cocktails in the city. At lunch, you can get a generously apportioned half-martini for $4.
Most popular dish: Chicken coq au vin.
Noise level: 50/100
Expected wait: None at lunch, on weekends or late-night. On the other hand, Little Bird might not be able to seat you at all if you arrive right after quittin' time.
Who you'll eat with: Power lunchers, tourists staying downtown, thrifty industry people, monied suburbanites.
Year opened: 2010