Don't Duck the Fries at Portland's Duckfat Restaurant

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Portland
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George When son Josh called to report that he and our daughter-in-law Kelly were enjoying a weekend in Portland and hoped we would join them for Sunday lunch at Duckfat Restaurant, I was pleased with the invitation but concerned about the duck. I have had two experiences with meals of duck. When I was an avid duck hunter, most of the ducks I shot were hardly edible. Some were totally inedible including merganzers and eiders. Josh remembers chomping down on a piece of buckshot in a duck once when he was growing up. That would have been the tastiest portion of the duck. On the other hand, over the years I’ve enjoyed succulent duck meals at the Belgrade Inn, famous for its long-roasting method of preparing duck. So Linda and I accepted the invitation and met Josh and Kelly at Duckfat in mid-November. A tiny place, Duckfat takes no reservations, but our wait outside on a pleasant sunny day was not long. And boy, their duck is a different critter than those ducks I used to kill and eat. Although the menu offers a bunch of interesting choices, I had to try the duck, of course. It’s a panini called duckfat confit with kimchi and sweet chili sauce. Our excellent server, Brittany, explained that kimchi is fermented cabbage with some spices. When I inquired as to whether the duck was merganzer, she smiled and simply said that their duck is slow cooked overnight. It couldn’t have been merganser, that’s for sure. The sandwich was one of the best I’ve ever had, and very filling. The gang shared Duckfat’s famous fries, cooked in, of course, duck fat. These fries are amazing, with seven choices of dipping sauce. We had the very tasty garlic aioli. Against Linda’s advice (she tries valiantly to recommend healthy choices for me) I ordered the Duckfat Original Milkshake made with double Tahitian vanilla bean crème anglais. I can only hope they have this in heaven. Duckfat has a good selection of Maine microbrews and Maine-made Eli’s Root Bear too, and very reasonable prices for menu items ranging from $6 to $13. I especially liked the wooden serving plates. Our only disappointment was the very sour pickles. Too much vinegar. None of us ate our pickle. The best thing about Duckfat? You don't have to shoot your own duck. I shall return soon. And tell them to hold the pickle. Linda So the kids are raving about Belgian Fries and insist we try them. I’m so glad we listen to our kids. Duckfat is known for their fries served by the “cone.” They’ve elevated an ordinary food to new levels - crunchy (from double frying in duck fat) with a creamy center. Add garlic aioli dipping sauce and you really have something special. There were six other interesting dipping choices and I bet each one is great. A large cone of Belgian Fries fed four adults. Duckfat's Yummy Fries My son Josh and I had a BGT panini. The “G” stands for goat cheese (from Maine’s Fern Hill Farm) and a generous amount of it formed a melted layer between the bacon and the tomato. There was a nice crunchy crust to make this panini delicious. Our daughter-in-law Kelly ordered the Vegetable Ratatouille Panini and declared it “packed with flavor” due to tons of basil pesto. This tiny place is hopping. A line of people waiting to get in is normal. There was a long curvy sidebar along one entire wall which was a clever design to fit more people into this small space. If you are looking for a fancy restaurant, this is not for you. A relaxed friendly atmosphere with great food is the reason to come to Duckfat. www.duckfat.com, 43 Middle Street, Portland, 207-774-8080.

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