I’ve made mention of how the block of Middle Street between Franklin and India puts up some serious competition for the “tastiest street in Portland” award, but out of the cluster of restaurants that call this stretch home, Duckfat is probably Meredith and my absolute favorite.
When the two of us first moved to Maine, Duckfat was one our earliest go-to’s – a weekly haunt for flavorfully gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches, and quite literally the best fries either of us had ever tasted. Don’t take my word for it, google it, we’re not the only believers.
Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather this week, and the kindness of our good friend’s Courtney and Michael (who hooked us up with the coolest fry and shakes gift card), Meredith and I beat the crowd (there is almost always a crowd at Duckfat), and grabbed an early Map & Menu lunch. On top of a delicious selection of eats, Duckfat always seems to have a great rotating selection of beer and wine, so I started with the Marshall Wharf Toughcats IPA and began the troublesome task of narrowing down menu choices. The chicken salad club with bacon, lettuce, and tomato? The duck confit panini? The chopped brussel sprouts salad with parmesan, apple, and an herb vinaigrette? The hard decisions one has to make. I opted for the roasted pork belly panini with fennel relish, jalapeno, and caramelized miso, and Meredith ordered the cream of tomato fennel soup with ciabatta croutons and asiago. The easiest decision was the large fry, because going to Duckfat without ordering fries is akin to walking down the Champs-Élysées in an American flag unitard – just don’t do it. Attempting to accurately describe the awesomeness that makes up the Duckfat fries would be a total failure on my part, so I’ll leave it at “simply delicious”. Meredith and I recommend the Thai chili mayo and sweet and sour mustard dipping sauces, but this is another area that you can’t go wrong.
Since calories don’t count on a Monday, what better way to wash down a pork belly panini and basket of fries, than with a chocolate milkshake? Made with gelato instead of ice cream, the milkshakes pop with flavor, and are the perfect way to cap a meal – that is, when I’m able to wrestle it away from Mere.
Frankly, I’m surprised that it’s taken us this long to Map & Menu one of our favorite places in Portland, but now that we have, it’ll be easier to return again and again for a quick, delicious bite, without the guilt of having not reviewed it.