DuckFat in Portland, ME is most famous for their hand-cut Belgian fries, which are, of course, fried in duck fat. Besides fries, they also serve soups, salads, a couple charcuterie options and paninis. KD and special correspondent JHS paid them a visit this summer and had lunch outside.
The Portland area is full of microbreweries and brewpubs. DuckFat’s beverage menu reflects this, with local draught beers served in mason jars. KD went with the Marshall Wharf Tug Pale Ale from Belfast, ME, while JHS decided to sample a couple of the home-made sodas. The Ginger Grapefruit soda was intriguing in that it didn’t taste like ginger AND grapefruit, but rather a combination of the two, fused together to become its own distinct flavor. This is accomplished by boiling down a mixture of sugar, water and the aforementioned ginger and grapefruit to create syrup, to which soda water is added. Conversely, the Lime-Mint soda gets its flavor by steeping the mint. It tastes pretty much like a non-alcoholic mojito, and makes for a great summer thirst quencher.
Continuing with the mint theme, our team started things off with the special, a Chilled Pea and Mint Soup. It had a big, vibrant garden-fresh pea flavor with a hint of mint, adding a delicate lightness. It was both smooth and refreshing, just what you want on a summer afternoon.
Next up was the Roasted Beet Salad, with goat cheese, hazelnuts, oranges and greens, all topped with orange vinaigrette. The dressing was very light, providing lubrication but still letting the flavors of all the ingredients shine through. The flavors worked well together, especially if you can manage to get a piece of each and every ingredient on your fork. KD wished it had a few more beets, as it was a “Beet Salad”, but everything was quite fresh and tasty.
The Duck Rillettes, from the charcuterie menu, came with pickled cauliflower, fennel and onions, micro greens, crostini and a large dollop of strong, grainy mustard. The sharpness of the pickled veggies was a nice contrast to the rich, flavorful duck, and the mustard added a bit of fire to the whole thing. The duck came in a petite french canning jar and everything was served on a bamboo cutting board, allowing you to mix and match things, making a different bite each time.
Served with marinated cabbage, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing, the Corned Beef Tongue Rueben is both familiar and new at the same time. The meat had a deep, mineral, almost gamey flavor that was enhanced by the pickled cabbage, and the cheese was melted and mild. The bread was what really made the dish, crispy and crunchy, but not burnt on the outside, it was warm and chewy on the inside, a perfectly done panini.
KD and JHS figured that if Duck Fat was world renowned for their fries why not take it to the next level and order the Poutine? Topped with the local Pineland Farm cheese curds and smothered in house-made duck gravy, the Poutine is hearty and heavy, but also compels you to finish the entire dish. The fries are double fried to help them stand up to the savory, meaty gravy but even they succumb eventually, turning soggy in the best possible way, covered in gooey, salty cheese curds.
Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.
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