Duckfat, Portland

Before you arrive at this popular East End haunt, you can smell the delicious, ever-so-familiar aroma of fried food. Duckfat is changing the fried food world and using what culinary tastemakers call “liquid gold” to do it. This isn’t any old fried food though; this is duck fat-fried food. Duck fat gives fries and other fried foods a perfect, golden brown color while also offering crunch and incredible taste. A warning to the wise: the tasting of a Duckfat fry will ruin all other regular french fries for you. With a host of condiments offered, Duckfat is home to the ultimate snack food.

It is for these fries that my dining companion and I venture toward the end of Middle Street on a recent spring day. We are met with warm lighting and, due to our early timing, a surprisingly empty restaurant. We arrive in the late afternoon—between the lunch and dinner rush—so it is calmer than usual in the dining room. Depending on the time of your visit, you’re lucky to grab a seat at this small, cozy establishment.

While waiting for our server we amuse ourselves by admiring the word magnets arranged along the wall. It’s a fun way to pass a little time, and we laugh at the phrases others have left behind.

The Saffron Orange Crush and the “original Duckfat milkshake” are our first orders. The soda uses only simple syrup and soda water—it’s crisp and fresh and served in a classic mason jar. The milkshake, made with a traditional crème anglaise, is perfectly thick and creamy. Which is everything you envision in the perfect milkshake.

As we sip our drinks and peruse the menu, our server helpfully answers any questions we have and makes some great suggestions. Besides the obvious, delicious fried food selection, the menu is made even more appealing when I notice that everything on the menu is sourced locally.

After some debate, we finally decide on the duck confit panini and a large order of fries. The condiment selection changes often, so we make our decisions with care. We decide to go with a garlic mayo sauce and the fan favorite truffle ketchup.

While we eagerly await the arrival of our food, our server surprises us with a charcuterie plate consisting of foie gras, lamb terrine, smoked duck breast, and chicken terrine. Slices of warm baguette, pickled onions, and a selection of condiments accompany the selection. Being as this is something I wouldn’t go out of my way to order, I greatly enjoy the chance to sample the different options. The condiments are clearly well thought out, and add new levels of flavor to each bite.

Not long after we finish off our charcuterie plate, our duck confit panini and fries arrive. The ideal combination of sweet, spicy, and savory, the panini is the perfect complement to the fries. The spicy mayo adds dimension to the sweetness of the duck, and the fresh tang of cilantro provides bright bursts of flavor as I bite into the freshly baked bread. The fries are perfectly crisp, hiding a pillow-soft filling. By adding a small dollop of truffle ketchup, it becomes a completely new tasting experience.

To polish off our visit, we order the donut holes. Fried in—you guessed it—duck fat, these tasty little treats are light and fluffy, with a hint of citrus flavoring and that signature golden brown coloring.

With a devoted following, Duckfat is one of Portland’s most deserving favorites. The friendly staff and lively atmosphere make it the ultimate spot for a quick bite with friends or co-workers. Duckfat prides themselves on the freshness of their product. They are huge supporters of local farmers, and work daily to provide the highest quality food. Whether new to the duck fat phenomenon, or a loyal Duckfat patron, this is a definite crowd pleaser for anyone who happens to find himself or herself in Portland.

43 Middle St. | Portland | 207.774.8080 |

Earth at Hidden Pond Kennebunkport

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