Little Sparrow

Local restaurant mogul Ford Fry, who operates some of the most beloved restaurants in the city (Marcel, St Cecilia, No. 246, Superica, Little Rey, and The Optimist) has rebooted the space of his original building block, JCT Kitchen, and now welcomes diners to Little Sparrow, located on the westside in midtown on Howell Mill Road. Little Sparrow, quite simply, serves up perfect renditions of French bistro fare, cocktails, and wines. But like all Ford Fry concepts, a rich backstory adds to the mystique. Little Sparrow was a nickname given to 1940s French pop star, Edith Piaf, the Taylor Swift of her day, with hits including the familiar "La Vie En Rose." The other relevant footnote about Piaf is that she was the mistress of the famed French 1940s boxing legend, Marcel Cerdan. Marcel, a married man, perished in a plane crash while traveling to be with his beloved Little Sparrow, a tragic and complicated end to their love story. Now the two lovers are enshrined and reunited by their namesake Ford Fry restaurants. Marcel, the Michelin Guide-recommended European Steakhouse, and Little Sparrow the French restaurant, connect via a pedestrian bridge just over the railroad tracks on the west side. The romantic symbolism cannot be denied.

But enough romance--let's talk Little Sparrow the restaurant! Per usual, Fry bakes in wow-factor across the board from the neon signage out front to the plush interior design to the bar and dining room. The details down the complimentary matchbooks are memorable and engaging. Like Marcel, the complimentary bread service is almost worth the price of admission: an almost too-warm perfect French baguette and a ball of the softest, saltiest butter kick off the experience and then every greatest hit from French onion soup to steak tartare to clams in white wine cause to steak Frites (named after Piaf's big hit, "La Vie En Rose") round out your Parisian bistro fantasies. I was in Paris this past summer and dined in several notable restaurants—this is as good as anything you will find across the pond. There's even a sidekick/alter ego concept, Bar Blanc which operates the floor above Little Sparrow offering a simple Steak Frites, cocktails and wine menu (no reservations taken). After focusing the past couple of years on expanding the popular Superica concept, it's a welcome relief to know that Fry and his team can still unleash their creative powers at will and give us another standout restaurant and some food for thought.

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