little bird bistro

by Kristina Sloggett

in Dinner, Portland, restaurants

You can call it Restaurant Week over here at spabettie. I’ve been on a break of sorts, and in that time I’m sharing some of our recent experiences dining out.

One of our favorite restaurant owners in Portland? Gabriel Rucker. One of our favorite restaurants in Portland? Gabe’s celebrated and inventive Le Pigeon. We used to love brunch there, and dinners are amazing as well. Gabe has been recognized time and again for his clever and notable dishes.

Gabe is known not only for his James Beard Rising Star Award but as the first Oregon chef to earn it. He fits perfectly into the exciting and rebellious section of Portland’s culinary culture.

Excited were we upon hearing Gabe was opening a second location, Little Bird Bistro, flying high in downtown Portland in the last six months. Okay, no more bird jokes – our last experience there was outstanding.

We started with cocktails – my pink drink was the Antoinette – vodka, grapefruit, Campari, Dolin Blanc, Peychaud’s, up. It was delicious.

Jason chose the Van Cleef – bourbon, scotch rinse, smoked orange, rocks.

To start, the charcuterie. I cannot recall what everything was, but there was an amazing potato salad that I ate most of. Amazing.

My entree choice was amazing as well –

Grilled Tombo Tuna, fennel confit, grapefruit butter, citrus salad

Bright and beautiful, this was so fresh and flavorful that Jason took it away from me! The tuna was buttery perfect, and the salad included onions of the pickled and sauteed varieties, black olives which were a surprisingly great flavor pairing, fresh grapefruit. Jason wanted to order another to go.

The other entree I was considering was the one Jason ended up ordering, so halfway through we switched –

Gnocchi Parisienne, peas, roasted portobello, pistou

This was insanely good.

We often end up making friendly conversation with our neighbors in restaurants, and this night was no different. The couple next to us were on a road trip from Napa Valley (how funny, we just did the opposite road trip!) and we talked wine, restaurants and cookbooks. We had some fun conversation throughout the evening.

They were just a bit ahead of us, and their dessert arrived as we were ordering ours.

They heard us talking about the Rhubarb Tarte Tatin, chantilly cream before ordering something else. They insisted we try a bite of theirs. Jason kept saying no, that’s okay, and as I picked up the spoon and said “if you insist” she said, ‘come on, we’re from the midwest, we share!’ and that’s all my Midwest Man needed to hear. He tried it also, and loved it. I promised to make a rhubarb dessert soon.

The Rhubarb Tarte was amazing, and I hope we can get back before rhubarb season is over, because I would definitely order that. I did have rhubarb in my dessert, however, and it was great also –

Fromage Blanc Cheesecake, rhubarb-vanilla compote

fromage indeed – this was some of the best cheesecake I have had, and most definitely unique. I am a big cheesecake baker, and I may attempt something similar soon.

Jason chose the Ice Cream & Sorbet Sampler – it arrived in a whimsical and fun presentation:

The flavors as I recall: mint, strawberry, pineapple, vanilla, rhubarb, cacao vanilla. Each one delicious. We shared with our neighbors 😀

Just as I have been impressed each time I visit Le Pigeon, I raved about this the whole way home and beyond. We both want to return and I hope it will be soon.

Little Bird Bistro on Urbanspoon

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit June 14, 2011 at 6:02 am

Wow… I need to go to Portland on an empty stomach and hit up all these amazing places! I think my favorite of the pictures was the ice cream sampler. I need that dish!


2 spabettie June 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

I know… I need it too. I’ll let you know if I find it… 😉


3 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit June 14, 2011 at 9:34 am

Awesome! Thanks!


4 Holly @ The Runny Egg June 14, 2011 at 6:03 am

The sorbet sampler is so adorable — what a cute little tray!


5 christina June 14, 2011 at 6:25 am

i love those cocktail glasses but damn, they are hard to drink out of. i always spill cocktails. ALWAYS. and that ice cream sampler? so cute!!


6 spabettie June 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

hee – funny you should say that, when she brought our drinks she was walking very slow and setting mine down on the table slowly, to not spill it as it was FULL. she succeeded, then I spilled on my first sip. 😉


7 Heather (Where's the Beach) June 14, 2011 at 6:40 am

I love your restaurant reviews! That’s too funny on them wanting to share a bite of the dessert. Not sure I would have gone along with it though. Can you believe I’ve never tried rhubarb?


8 spabettie June 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hmm… I think the rhubarb season is such a short window, I can see how you’d miss it. I love it – a very tart flavor that I think goes great in a dessert, not too sweet.


9 Kris @Krazy_Kris June 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

oh wow – it’s like art! soooooooo lovely – and that sorbet sampler? ADORABLE!!!


10 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) June 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

Wow, the food is beautiful! I love the tuna presentations and the ice cream sampler too. Sounds like an incredible experience!


11 Carbzilla June 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

Yum yum yum yum yum! How did you get such great photos in the restaurant? The lighting is fantastic!

I have that cute dish that the ice cream came in. I keep my jewelry in it. It was super cheap, and I can look it up if you *need* one. :)


12 spabettie June 14, 2011 at 9:16 am

yes Yes YES, I was going to look for those dishes today (how did you KNOW!) 😀 I was really happy with the lighting too – our reservations were 6:30 and we were seated near the windows… I always do a test photo when first sitting down, to change white balance, etc, and was happy when the first photos came out great! made me wonder if photography was actually thought about when designing the layout… :)


13 Lisa June 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

I work near that restaurant and walk by it every day. I’ve been wanting to try it and now seeing your photos I REALLY want to go!!


14 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty June 14, 2011 at 8:54 am

Oh gosh!!! This is amazing! I might have to go to Portland just for food!! :) YUM!!


15 Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers June 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

What pretty food! Now I want cheesecake.


16 Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons June 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

That sorbet sampler is GENIUS! <3 and cheesecake is my favorite!!! I used to be scared of it but I had one really really good one and now i'm hooked! <3


17 Kath (My Funny Little Life) June 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

That’s the coolest and most stylish way to serve ice cream I’ve ever seen! 😀 And I love how you picture the drinks – you catch the light so that they seem to shine from within. (I also totally adore the last drink pic with the candle behind it!)


18 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

from the tuna/citrus to the cheesecake…I am drooling!

how fun for you guys to have such a great meal!


19 Biz June 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I love talking to people in restaurants about their dishes – my husband just hangs his head in shame – ha! 😀

Everything looks wonderful – my husband and I recently went out for sushi and ordered calamari fries with this vinegary slaw and spicy mustard dipping sauce – amazing combination!


20 Pure2raw twins June 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

looks amazing! what a fun way to present sorbet


21 Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo June 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Wow, what very artful presentation of the food! I love how you struck up a conversation with your neighbors…the best things always happen that way, right?


22 Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli June 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Oh wow! Everything looks AMAZING!! I love that your neighbors insisted on sharing dessert! Too cute!

And speaking of cute…that ice cream sampler tray! I totally need that!


23 Meg June 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

All of it looks INSANELY good as you said 😉

And so adorable…ha 😀


24 Shirley @ gfe June 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Oh, baby, I’m all for that drink and dessert for sure. Both have a simple, but fantastic presentation.



25 sophia June 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

You shared that precious thing with your neighbors?! Wow you’re generous. More than me, anyway! That all would have gone down my belly! Hm, perhaps that’s why I’ve never made friends in a restaurant before…


26 cooking rookie June 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I love that sorbet sampler – so cute!


27 Kristen @ Change of Pace June 15, 2011 at 4:02 am

I stumbled upon your blog this morning and so glad I did! Gorgeous pictures… I’m always to shy to take pictures in a restaurant!


28 spabettie June 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

thank you, Kristen! I know what you mean, I used to be the same way about photos in restaurants. then? I started calling ahead and asking if they would mind – they were ALWAYS quick to say no, totally acceptable! that made me feel better. I try to be as discreet as possible, still. :)


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