Thursday, 18 July 2013

Eating Around / Little Bird Bistro (Petit Oiseau)

Caribou rack over the entrance to the kitchen at Little Bird Bistro.
Little Bird Bistro is the sister restaurant to Gabriel Rucker's Le Pigeon run by head Chef Eric Van Kley.  We had an enjoyable meal there last evening with family and friend.  The menu is French Bistro with a decidely Portland style.  Everything we had was very tasty - some dishes better than others.  The selection of bottled wines is lacking on the low end.

Daily chalk board specials.
Started with a bottle of Chablis (1er. Cru Mont de Milieu, Jean-Pierre Grossot, ‘05) which I thought was good though not exceptional.  I shared a dozen raw oysters; Kusshi's from British Colombia and Netarts harvested on the Oregon coast.  The Kusshi's are more delicate, firmer in texture, and carry a bit less oceany flavor than the Netarts.  Both were excellent.  Others in the party had the Goat Cheese Gnocchi, with roasted lamb neck, peppers, and mint - and they enjoyed it immensely.    Gnocchi is always a favorite.

For the second round of small plates I ordered the sweet breads and we also ordered the Marrow Bones with Chorizo, and Calamari, oregano, pickled chilies and black flat-bread.  Everyone enjoyed the marrow bones immensely.  The black flat bread was dyed black with squid ink! The sweet breads were described on the menu as follows: Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, carrot purée, roasted carrots, curried crème fraîche - they had a kind of peppery coleslaw on top that was a bit strong for the delicate sweet breads. The curried creme fraiche was something I never would have thought of myself - very good.  By then we'd switched to a red Rhone, Crozes Hermitage, Domaine des Martinelles, ‘09.  This one was, I thought, better than the Chablis.  Rich texture, deep berry flavors and peppery.

For an entree I ordered the Pan Roasted Duck Breast, deviled duck heart & egg salad, paprika toast, dijon vin.  When I kill a game bird or duck, the hearts and livers are always eaten the same day.  Thinking back, I do not recall getting the heart on my plate.  The duck was perfectly cooked, but the dish was rather plain and not terribly exciting.  Someone at our table ordered the Sherry-Glazed Pork Shoulder,roasted corn, fingerlings, manchego, padrón peppers which may have been the best entree we tasted.  Someone else had the Cassoulet of duck leg, pork belly, sausage & white beans which everybody liked.  C and P shared Fennel Sausage, fallen soufflé, parmesan, pepper jam which was good, but not really memorable.

G came directly from work and still had his flight uniform on.
If I had to compare to other meals I've eaten in the past few years in Portland, I think I go back to  Pigeon before I returned to Petit Oiseau.  I somehow prefer the atmosphere and space at Pigeon.   The Pigeon menu was just as interesting there and, in my memory, the food was perhaps better prepared.

Eating a meal like this is a luxury few can afford and we count ourselves very lucky indeed to be able to do so once in a while.  From a practical point of view, I do it for the chance to get a taste of foods I can not, or have not, tried to cook at home.  But really it's just plain fun to share a special meal with family and friends.

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