Little Bird Bistro had opened over a year ago to much hype and is the little sister to the famous Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon. At the helm of both Little Bird and Le Pigeon is Gabriel Rucker, who won James Beard Foundation’s 2011 Rising Star Chef of the Year. After reading some great reviews, I was curious to check out the moderately-priced Little Bird and it was an added bonus that they have “Early Hour” specials from 3pm to 5pm as well as “Late Hour” specials from 10pm to midnight daily. By the time my friend C and I were done our shopping, we were just in time for the Late Hour specials at Little Bird.
The decor at Little Bird is quaint but with some eclectic decorative pieces including antlers, butterflies and birds. The bistro has a European feel to it and is quite cozy. Being a French bistro, I thought it was a nice touch that the front door had the name of the bistro translated in French.
The menu at Little Bird comprises of a simple mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine. The Chalkboard Specials included French delicacies like raw oysters, roasted marrow bones, foie gras torchon, and charcuterie.
I wanted to the try famous Le Pigeon Burger ($12 during lunch and dinner; $9 during Early Hour 3-5 pm and Late Hour 10 pm-midnight). I had learnt that at Le Pigeon, Gabriel Rucker had offered a signature house-ground burger, piled high on a toasted ciabatta roll with an iceberg lettuce slaw, Tillamook white cheddar, housemade aioli, and grilled pickled onions but only five of these burgers were available each night. At Little Bird, this Le Pigeon Burger is available at all hours and without any limitations. The burger came with double-fried frites that were tossed in marrow butter and parsley along with a side of housemade ketchup. At Little Bird, you can order your burger to the desired doneness and I had ordered the burger medium-rare. After so much hype, I had high expectations for this burger and was hoping to be wowed. Overall, I thought the burger was tasty but I wouldn’t say that it is the most memorable burger that I have ever eaten. The beef patty was indeed juicy but it wasn’t as flavourful as I expected it to be. The frites on the other hand were actually quite tasty. They were crispy and flavourful. Considering that it was only $9 as a Late Hour special, the burger was good value but with so many other intriguing items on the menu, I’d probably opt to try something different on my next visit to Little Bird.
My friend C wanted to try the Foie Gras Torchon with Chestnuts and Maple Huckleberry ($16 during lunch and dinner; $12 during Early Hour 3-5 pm and Late Hour 10 pm-midnight), which was one of the Chalkboard Specials. The Foie Gras was served a bed of creamy chestnut puree along with a few slices of brioche toast. This dish was perfectly executed. I loved the flavour of the huckleberries and maple syrup against the decadent foie gras torchon.
Since we were still a little hungry, my friend C wanted to try the Roasted Marrow Bones with Truffled Apricot Chutney ($12 during lunch and dinner; $9 during Early Hour 3-5 pm and Late Hour 10 pm-midnight), which was another Chalkboard Special. This was my first time having marrow bones so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The bones were split length-wise and roasted to perfection. They were sinfully delicious, especially with the truffled apricot chutney topping. I loved the fruitiness of the chutney against the fattiness of the marrow. These were definitely a steal at $9 during Late Hour and was the highlight of our visit.
We opted not to have dessert as we had already had such a rich and decadent meal. To our pleasant surprise, along with our bill, we were each given a complimentary mini salted-caramel macaron. They were the perfect bite-size sweet treat to finish off our evening. For me personally, I thought Little Bird really excelled at the French classics such as the Roasted Marrow Bones and the Foie Gras Torchon and is definitely a place not to be missed by foodies.