43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101-4213
“Duck fat – who doesnt like duck fat??”
Everyone has a weakness – and for me, it’s french fries. Cheesecake, chocolate, ice cream – some people like their sweets, I’m a deep fried potato and salt guy. So when I heard of a small shop in Portland Maine making amazing french fries, more specifically Belgian fries, I knew I had to check it out.
Duck Fat, in Portland Maine, serves fairly simple sandwich shop type fare. Soups, sandwiches, salads, some diner type food, and some of the most amazing frites you’ll ever taste. It is a fairly humble establishment that uses some very fine, fresh, local ingredients. While it is simple fare, there’s nothing ordinary about it.
The interior is modest, with a small amount of seating. Most spaces are counter spaces that ring the exterior walls.
Though they serve some great lunch-type fare, what they are exceptional at are the Belgian fries – deep fried in duck fat. I always assumed that Belgian fries were just frites fried in a way similar to the style served in Belgium, but apparently there is a specification for what makes a Belgian Fry. From the site belgian fries, they state:
- freshly cut, irregularly shaped
- cooked (fried) twice
- fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside
- a distinct potato taste
- at least 10 mm thick
- preferably served in a paper cone
Pretty much describes Duck Fat fries to a tee. They also serve a variety of dips ala Belgium as well, including truffle ketchup and varieties of mayo.
By deep frying them in duck fat, it provides a nice richness to the fry itself, along with the crispy exterior and fluffy interior. A little goes a long way with these guys.
With their geographic proximity, you see a lot of Canadian influence on the food and beverage in Portland. On the seafood, on the beer, and especially with Canadian classics like poutine. Their rendition involves their duck fat fries, with fresh cheese curd and duck fat gravy.
Sadly, this didnt work for me as well as the fries did. The gravy made the perfectly cooked fries soggy, and the duck fat gravy covered up a lot of the wonderful potato flavour. The cheese curds were nice, but I feel on the whole, I would’ve preferred the fries with just the dipping sauce.
On the whole, this is a great establishment in an unexpected part of the country. I’ve tried Belgian frites from coast to coast, and these truly were the best fry I’ve sampled in the United States thus far. Combined with affordable prices and great local ingredients, this is one heck of a sandwich shop. Which i should’ve known just from the name, Duck Fat, itself.