Duckfat – “Bring forth your fatted duck and make fries like the world has never seen.”

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Duckfat is the 2005 creation of renowned Chef Rob Evans. Also founder of the pricier Hugo’s across the street, Chef Evans has won numerous awards for his chefery and is a past winner of Chopped. And just this past November, a tiny, little news organization called CNN recognized Duckfat as having some of the best French fries in the country. It’s no wonder sardines get claustrophobic standing inside the small restaurant while waiting for a table. This place has earned a reputation.

The food at Duckfat might be considered elegant simplicity. Milkshakes, salads, and Paninis create a good portion of the menu. That may seem run-of-the-mill at face value, but as evidenced by items like the Ratatouille Panini and house-made Orange Honey Cardamom soda, Duckfat is anything but the status quo. They also offer daily food and drink specials and a great selection of beer and wine for you thirsty travelers and drunkards (you know who you are).

The seating situation in the restaurant is somewhat unusual. It consists of one table on each side of the entrance at which multiple parties are seated, the bar, and two long bars set up along either side of the hallway leading to the restrooms on the right side of the restaurant. It definitely provides a bit of “je ne sais quoi”, but it suits the place just fine.

Upon being seated at Duckfat, you arrive to your area freshly set up with the necessities, menus laid out, and specials of the day staring you in the face. While the beer specials looked particularly tempting this weekend, I was looking for a chewable lunch only.

The first time I ever went to Duckfat, which was several months ago, it was a self-imposed requirement that I eat something with duck, so I tried a salad with duck confit. Considering that I don’t really like duck that much and didn’t know confit from coffee, I was very pleasantly surprised. But for my return trip, I was looking for something different. I started with a peanut butter chocolate milkshake, expanded to include an oven roasted turkey Panini, and finished with a small order of their famous fries. My wife ordered the cream of tomato fennel soup which she insists isn’t very fennel-y (which she appreciates) and a glass of wine.

Before I go any further, I want to explain what some might see as weakness for only ordering a small fry. I would not normally consider, or even condone, ordering a small (after all, I’m not peterpeterportlandnibbler). That said, I usually don’t order fries at all and my wife didn’t want any of the delectable little potato sticks, so I caved. The Duckfat fries are so damn good that I just couldn’t skip them altogether, but when you go, get the large because they are a much better deal.

After a short wait, the peanut butter chocolate shake arrived. I was a little concerned that it would bring all the boys to the yard, but alas, it did not. Once I was completely sure all the boys were not just delayed on their way to the yard, I drank my shake like I was at a 1950’s sock hop. It was very good, but a little light on the peanut butter which is my favorite part. I did like the fact that it wasn’t overly sweet though. Overall, it was a solid concoction, but for my tastes, I wish they had one that was just peanut butter without the chocolate. When I finished my shake, the rest of our food was delivered.

The turkey Panini came with pickled spaghetti squash, sage mayo, and Swiss. The bread was crispy, the turkey was fresh, and the melding of the flavors was superb. The fries come with one of eight dipping sauces. Upon the recommendation of the waiter, we chose the lemon-herb mayo which was very good. The local fries are twice fried in duck fat giving them the perfect crispiness and they are nicely seasoned providing that “oh delicious!” feel when you put them in your gaping maw – hence the national recognition.

In the middle of my Panini consumption, my face buried in oven roasted turkey, the person sitting next to me said “Oh, is that the turkey?!” A little scared and not completely sure if she was talking to me or not, I gave her a glance as though she was an evil clown. Upon realizing the clown was indeed talking to me, I confirmed her suspicion. She apologized for the exclamatory inquiry, confessing that she was excited for her first time eating at Duckfat. I understood. I was excited for my second time there.

The prices at Duckfat were reasonable. Our entire meal came to just about $40 including everything and we were exceptionally full. In reality, I could have easily not ordered the shake, but I wanted to be able to give my loyal readers an assessment of the Duckfat milkshake. You are welcome.

Until next time….Stay Hungry.

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or feel free to post your thoughts below.

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