Time: 6:30 pm, Friday June 6, 2008
With: Hubby and Sabrina
Where: 43 Middle Street, Portland
Hubby and Sabrina and I decided, after the usual rigmarole (that word is a spell-check disaster), to go to a little eatery that I had always wanted to try and just never found the time. Silly me. I could have been eating awesome food for quite some time. And there you go. I gave the ending away.
Duckfat is a small restaurant on Middle street, next to Norms. It is perfectly located for what it is: urban-lite and hip. It has exposed brick walls and metal tables and it all works together to make you feel somehow younger than you are, but in a good way. There is a large magnetic board with oodles of those word poem magnet thingies to play with. Sabs, Hubby and I found a seat right at the front, sitting in the window. I’m sure that people walking and driving by saw our faces of culinary delight and decided to “go to that Duckfat place, Honey. Look how happy those folks are”.
There is counter service, but don’t let that fool you into not leaving a tip on your charge card when you pay – the counter guy brought our meals and apps and desserts and asked how we were doing and if we needed anything several times. The service is as good as a traditional sit down restaurant, if not better.
Sabrina ordered the Roasted Beet Salad, with goat cheese and oranges in a balsamic vinaigrette. I stole a beet – it was wonderfully earthy and tasty. Hubby ordered the Homemade Meatloaf Panini, with cheddar, onion and horseradish mayo. Sabs and Hubby then traded half of each of their entree. Smartees. I got the Duck Confit Panini, with ginger and apricot chutney. It was spectacular.
The paninis, (although in this day and age almost passe), were insanely good. The bread was tender on the inside and crispy-crunchy on the outside, but not at all dry, which is a death knell for sandwiches for me. There was just enough filling to make it worth it; just enough to almost squish out when you bite, but not quite.
We also ordered two helpings of the famous duckfat fries. When they arrived at our table I have to say that I was worried that we wouldn’t get to eat them all – but it turns out that yeah, it wasn’t a problem. We devoured them. They were crispy and salty and perfect. We also ordered several dips for the fries – Truffle Ketchup (tasted like Marmite), Curry Mayo (hands down the favorite), Garlic Mayo (also great), another one I forget, and Thai Chili Spice (SPICY). The fries are worth the money and the trip.
I took a chance and ordered the homemade Strawberry Anise Hyssop soda. I wanted to be sophisticated enough to enjoy the complex taste and the play of flavors across my tongue, but I wasn’t. It was the only misstep of the evening, and I’m sure it was mine. I should have ordered something else – all of the other flavors looked excellent.
We finished our expedition with both the Beignets with Cinnamon and Sugar and the Orange Scented Churros with chocolate dipping sauce. The beignets were what every doughnut hole strives to be, fluffy and hot and tasty and fried little pieces of heaven. The churros were also great – they were very snappy on the outside, but inside were moist and orangey. They paired excellently with the chocolate sauce.
After we ate what was one of the best meals I have ever had we all got up and made out with the wait staff to show our appreciation. Ok, not really. But it was that good.
5 out of 5 stars.
PS – I stole the picture above from this gentleman: