In 2010, Le Pigeon chef Gabriel Rucker was one of Portland’s biggest names in the culinary world. Nominated twice for the James Beard Awards’ Rising Star Chef of the Year, the California ex-pat was in the midst of his prime. So, like many talented chefs do as their careers are skyrocketing, Rucker opened his second restaurant. A fun little bistro in downtown Portland, Little Bird became a hallmark of inventive bistro fare with an exceptional wine list and one of the best late-night menus in the neighborhood.
Now, almost 10 years later, Little Bird Bistro is calling it quits: The restaurant closes October 27, the Oregonian first reported.
In its prime, Little Bird became a haven for some of Portland’s top talent. Erik Van Kley ran the kitchen for years before opening his now-closed restaurant Taylor Railworks — Kley now serves as executive chef at the Pearl District wine bar Arden. Rucker’s partner, Andy Fortgang, helped shape the restaurant into a relaxed dining room while surreptitiously sneaking in the comforts high-end dining. And Helen Jo, a Momofuku Milk Bar alum, created memorable pastries for the bistro before being snatched up by the sister restaurant across the river.
The restaurant switched things up earlier this year, when Le Pigeon sous chef Xan Gilmartin became chef de cuisine of Little Bird. The menu got some new, mellowed-out Canard-esque plates like a brisket french dip, fried chicken cobb salad with herbes de provence “ranch,” and foie terrine with pineapple-rum compote. Still, Rucker and Fortgang announced today that the restaurant will close before the month ends. As for why, the two chose not to comment until the restaurant has fully shuttered.