This French-fusion bistro, the work of celebrity chef Gabriel Rucker, is as dynamic as it is consistent.
The restaurant's downtown dining room is best described in a word: sultry. Red leather booths line one wall beneath baskets of cascading big-leaved philodendrons and teardrop-shaped lights. A pair of large antlers marks the kitchen entrance, and metal-stamped ceiling tiles shine softly overhead.
While appropriate acclaim has been awarded to Little Bird's double brie burger (just $7 during happy hour), the restaurant's deconstructed fried chicken coq a vin ($29) is worth paying a little more for. The meal's presentation is a performance in itself. Coated in rice, potato flour and drenched in buttermilk before a dip in the deep fryer, the airy cuts sit atop rich, raclette- and herb-laden mashed potatoes. Rosemary-balsamic jus is drizzled on the plate tableside by your server. Altogether, the dish manages to meld Southern comfort with French decadence.
Other ambitious offerings include an escargot appetizer ($19), served with fresh, just-cooked parsnip noodles and a heavy coating of toasted hazelnut herb butter. The dish gets style points, but complimentary Grand Central Bakery baguette slices may be a better, pared-down means of conveyance for the earthy snails to reach your mouth.
Ending a romantic meal (or, really, any meal) with dessert should be a requirement, and Little Bird has plenty of sweets to satiate. The savory-inclined might opt for a cheese plate ($16) and port ($13-$16), whereas chocolate connoisseurs should choose the raspberry roulade ($12)—fluffy mousse spiraled with chocolate cake and served atop zesty Szechuan peppercorn chocolate sauce—if it graces the menu with its presence again. Post-meal Stumptown coffee ($4), if ordered, is served in a delicate ceramic set, which, our server informed us, was snagged at Goodwill. The artisan-and-thrifted combo might be the most authentic Portland fusion on the menu.
Pro tip: Wine drinkers might be tempted to order a local pinot noir, like the 2015 Fossil & Fawn made with grapes from Willamette Valley's Silvershot Vineyards ($14), which is tart and light to the point of being nearly effervescent. But consider instead the crisp 2017 French Rose ($10). It boasts a more delicious floral taste at a cheaper price.