By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
The exterior featured two tables sheltered under an awning
One of our most satisfying eatery experiences in Portland, Maine was at Duckfat. Lunch at the popular informal restaurant was best approached armed with patience and the willingness to share space with neighbors. There were seating options indoors and outdoors. Outdoors there was one wood table with two benches on either side of the entrance door facing the sidewalk and street. The tables were shared by couples and small groups while other would be diners waited on the sidewalk for a place to free up. A staff member explained that a two hour and longer wait was common for lunch.
Delicious fries cooked in the namesake oil
The day we dined outdoors, cool temperatures contrasted with the harsh afternoon sunlight that filtered through to our table. Our server was friendly, well informed and helpful. When our Belgian fries, size large, arrived too salty he replaced them quickly. The fries, sandwich and special board of the day followed by an Original Duckfat Milkshake Double Thick with Tahitian Vanilla Bean ice cream shake, a house specialty, were all exceptionally good.
Our first special board of the day
Our next meal, inside the sandwich shop, was less pleasant although the food itself was equally good. Stool seating was possible at stand alone tables or against the wall. It was crowded, warm and noisy. An open kitchen took up the rear of the interior. A narrow hallway led to single stall restrooms shared by the staff.
The decadent vanilla bean shake
Our server seemed rushed and left without saying a word halfway through our meal. We had to ask another staff member for a beverage refill, a shake and eventually to pay.
A second variation on the special board of the day
Once again our order was worthwhile. The fries, cooked in duck fat and served on a stand, were as good as the first time and stayed hot until the end. The fries were prepared with seasoned salt and served with our choice from among eight dipping sauces. The House Cured Ham and Cheese grilled sandwich and cold deli board were both rewarding.
The grilled sandwich and fries with truffle ketchup
The well made flavorful dishes prepared with many local ingredients (a list of suppliers appeared on the restaurant website) more than made up for the crowded and loud ambiance and uneven service. We also liked that Duckfat, according to its website, is independent and locally owned. Should we return to Portland, Duckfat will be at the top of our eatery list.