Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Duckfat (Portland, ME)

First off, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc etc etc...regardless, I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season.  As always, I am spending my Christmas in Portland with family, and while here I had the opportunity to finally go to Duckfat, a restaurant that opened a few years ago and is designed around the idea of using duck fat as a cooking medium; hence, the name.  I have heard great things, and it has been featured on the Food Network, among other media; the french fries typically get the majority of the press, and I can certainly see why.

Poutine with duckfat fried french fries, duck gravy, and local cheese curd
Duckfat is a very small place, with room for maybe 30, and at 1:30pm on the Sunday before Christmas it was packed, requiring a wait of about 15 minutes for myself as a solo diner before getting seated, and rather longer for many people who arrived with larger parties before me.  Seated at the bar, I felt a little crowded in, but that's okay; it's got a real pub feel, with a lot of exuberant anticipation among the diners, and I felt completely welcomed by the atmosphere and the staff alike.  I ordered the poutine, that classic French Canadian gravy fries with cheese curd dish that is never bad, but is rarely great; this, however, was great.  With extremely crispy fries, packed with flavor from the duck fat, and a really ridiculously good duck gravy, not to mention legitimate cheese curds, this was exactly what you would imagine when picturing the best of this dish.  I have had a few different iterations, and it's always been very tasty, but my god, was this good.  Even after being soaked in the gravy, the fries were still quite crispy, which is a common failing in this dish.  I can normally find a flaw with what I eat, even if it's nitpicky, but I honestly can't find anything with this; it is, quite simply, perfect.

Salted Duckfat Caramel Milkshake
Along with the poutine, I also had the salted duckfat caramel milkshake, which I had been considering before talking to my sister, but absolutely had to have after she insisted that I would love it.  Salt and caramel combine to make probably the best taste ever, and this did not disappoint in the least.  Sweet, savory, and just all in all delicious, I was completely full by the time I finished it but strongly considered having another despite the promise of impending stomach ache from it.  It was thick, gooey, and really high quality ice cream (they call it gelato in their menu description, though I'm not sure that the texture held up to that), and once again, I can't really find anything to criticize about it.

The menu includes a number of craft beers that appear to rotate regularly, along with the numerous milkshakes and sodas that are always on the menu.  All in all, this is a great place, and I highly recommend it.


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