Portland News to Chew

Gabe Rucker takes over Little Bird, Erik Van Kley opens Taylor Railworks, and Flying Fish expands its seafood empire.

By Eat Beat Team June 30, 2015

Veal meatballs luxuriating in escargot cream at Gabriel Rucker's Little Bird.

Image: Karen Brooks


Nomad PDX, the modernist pop up from Castagna vet Ryan Fox, has found a permanent home at Southwest Portland’s Shift Drinks (1200 SW Morrison St). Starting in July, their new dining experience will be open Friday-Sunday with several seating times. Reservations at

While everyone was busy sussing out the next hot spot, five-year-old Little Bird has quietly rebooted as Portland’s most exciting “new” restaurant. The downtown bistro’s cooking feels vital and experimental, like a playful food lab unfolding on our plates. What’s changed? Co-owner Gabriel Rucker, the James Beard double-medaled lord of Le Pigeon, is in the house, following longtime chef Erik Van Kley’s late-April departure. More details about Rucker’s new Little Bird here.


Meanwhile, former Little Bird chef Erik Van Kley is in the process of opening Taylor Railworks, a 49-seat “refined American” eatery set inside the old Plow Works Building at 117 SE Taylor St. Early menu inspirations call for curry-fried chicken, wedge salad with avocados, chiles, and buttermilk, and brunch, featuring steak and eggs with green harissa. 

Flying Fish Company, the seafood market born out of a food truck in 2011, is launching a Kickstarter with the goal of opening a new, larger retail space. Owner Lyf Gildersleeve currently runs his business out of a tiny wooden shack on Southeast Hawthorne and 23rd, culling a vast network of small-scale Oregon fisherman to haul in the city’s freshest catch. More details as they become available. 


The Oregonian is the first to report that Aaron Barnett, St. Jack’s executive chef, will open La Moule (the mussel), a moule frites (mussels and french fry) restaurant stocking only Belgian-style beers, both local and imported. The current blueprint shows half-dozen moule frites flavors, like classic white wine-butter-fresh herb, merguez sausage with harissa and mint, and an “American-style” with Budweiser and Old Bay seasoning. The bar program will get help from Tommy Klus, formerly of Multnomah Whiskey Library.


The Zipper, a new micro-restaurant project on NE Sandy and 28th from the creator of The Ocean a few blocks away, has opened with its first few businesses. Its newest tenant, joining a cast that includes Bywater Grocery, Slice Pizza Company, ChickPeaDX and Rua, is Paydirt, a “dedicated drinking establishment” from the owners of North Portland’s Old Gold. Expect a 50-foot bar lined with hundreds of bourbons, Fernet-Branca on tap, and a special champagne table service called in via old 1940’s phone booths that radio the bar for more bubbly. Tentative opening date: Early August.

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