(Disclaimer: I lost most of my pictures from the restaurant when I changed phones so I borrow some pictures from Duckfat and Liz, Erin, and Michael from YELP.)
A few weeks ago, I went to New England for a few days of skiing, eating and overall relaxing. I will not review the flight because there was not much to riding Economy Class in one of American Airlines’ 737-800. The weather in Boston was sunny, but the remnants of a snowstorm that passed through the area a few days prior remained. I quickly made my way to the Rental Car Center via the complimentary shuttle. Surprisingly, there was not a long line for Enterprise Rent A Car.
It took less than five minutes to process the rental. I soon headed to the second level to select my vehicle. The holiday season was very busy in New England, which meant, there were only three cars available. There was a Dodge minivan, Kia Soul and Nissan Altima. I went with the Altima for the legroom. Either car would have been fine since they were all an “upgrade” from the compact listed on the reservation. I jumped in the car for the two and a half hour ride up the coast to Portland, Maine. The first, and most important, stop on the trip was Duckfat.
Duckfat, located in downtown Portland was opened in 2005 by two local chefs. During my four years living in New Hampshire, I frequented the restaurant more times than I can count.
Duckfat is always busy and this day was not an exception. There are two reasons for the restaurant being consistently busy: 1) Duckfat can only seat around 42 people, and 2) the food is soooo good. Another thing to note when visiting Duckfat is the parking situation. Free parking near the restaurant is limited so pay parking is your best option. There are two lots directly in front of the restaurant.
I entered Duckfat and immediately felt a bit of nostalgia as I passed the two tables “outside”. These tables are outside of the main dining area. They are enclosed and have a couple of heaters to keep it from getting unbearably cold during the winter months. Just inside the door to the main dining area was the hostess stand. To left of that was a small table. To the right of that was the bar, then some seating along the wall, and a bit more seating. The seating along the wall is my favorite because you play with the different words on the board while waiting for your food.
I approached the hostess stand to put my name on the waitlist. The hostess informed me of a 45 minute wait. I was then given a buzzer with a map on it. The map showed how far a guest could wander before it would not work. It also listed four restaurants/bars to spend the wait. I walked to the East Ender, immediately next door, where I had a copper ale called Ishmael. I also talked to some cool guys, Doug and Cody.
The buzzer sounded approximately 40 minutes after I entered East Ender. I made my way back to Duckfat to claim my seat. Pro tip: You have 10 minutes to return to the restaurant after the buzzer sounds or run the risk of losing your seats. The hostess gave me the option of sitting at the bar top or the community table to the right. I chose to sit at the bar. The bartender quickly welcomed us and provided menus.
For starters, we ordered fried brussel sprouts with bacon and Belgian fries with regular ketchup for my son then truffle ketchup and curry mayo sauces. They were both so delicious. The brussel sprouts, with the sauce, bacon and apple, were perfect.
We grabbed the tomato and fennel soup to cleanse our pallet before ordering our entrees. My eyes were bigger than my stomach. We ordered one meatloaf and one duck confit panini. The meatloaf panini was cooked perfectly, I especially liked the pickle onion and chile mayo. The duck confit panini was the highlight. EVERYTHING about this sandwich is amazing. It is my go to sandwich when at Duckfat.
At this point, I was stuffed but could not leave without having the donut holes. Let me tell you, these donuts were a little crunchy on the outside and so flaky in the center. The citrus sprinkle and Duckfat caramel icing put these things over the top.
Duckfat is one of my favorite restaurants, not only in New England, but in the world. I would be willing to put its menu against anyone. The simplistic menu, craft beers, and welcoming atmosphere sets this place apart many others in the area. I cannot wait to visit Duckfat again, hopefully I will not as much.