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 spring departure. Rucker is remaking the menu in his own image, forging a fresh direction for Little Bird, somewhere between Paris and America’s culinary underbelly. That means foie gras capped in crispy chicken skin or extraordinary veal meatballs luxuriating in escargot cream, like a strange fever dream that finds Tony Soprano dining at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Another hit? The Double Brie Burger, fantastically juicy, cloaked in cheese funk, lifted with sharp, mustardy béarnaise, then counterpunched with spicy, crunchy, pickle-intensive ketchup.