Duckfat – Caramel Milkshakes and More

The first rule of traveling is that if you run across a restaurant that specializes in French fries, you must patronize it.

The second rule is, don’t pack matches in your carry-on unless you want to be extensively strip searched.

Duckfat is well known for its gastropub fare centered around its namesake – duck fat. Almost everything here has duck in some form, from gourmet charcuterie to seasonal salads to even dessert. What they are especially famous for are their duck fat fries.

Duckfat is a tiny restaurant with 2 communal tables and some counter seating, so try to go there just before or just after lunch to avoid any waits. Though it’s small, it feels comfortable and exciting, with staff bustling around serving duck fat infused snacks all over the place.

Duck fat caramel milkshake

You read that right. Caramel made with duck fat. In a milkshake. A thick but not icy vanilla milkshake, light and fragrant, shot through with gooey ribbons of duck fat caramel. Teh texture of the caramel is gooey and stretchy, like a Caramello candy bar. It stays suspended in the shake, coming up in unexpected spurts in the straw. The taste of the caramel is shockingly complex – at first it has the incredibly sweet taste of burnt sugar, then it quickly mellows out to a buttery, smooth taste. The final taste is somewhat salty and almost earthy from the duck fat. This is one indulgent milkshake, and one that is best split between two people.

Poutine with duck gravy

If french fries are the king of all foods, poutine is the pope. Of course I had to order it here. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down. The curds aren’t melted enough and though the gravy is delicious – smooth, peppery, pleasantly gamey, and incredibly savory – it was not distributed well. We had to dig to the bottom of the bowl to really get any gravy. The fries, however, are sensational. Medium thickness, hand cut, crunchy without and fluffy within. Salted with restraint so the pure potato taste comes through, and with the lingering savory taste of duck fat. Duck fat fries really are the best  – so rich, so satisfying, so totally delicious. Next time, I would get them with a side of the zesty Thai chile aioli.

Duck Fat is a great stop in Portland for an afternoon pick-me-up. I only wish I had been hungry enough to try one of the delicious-sounding paninis. The service is relaxed, but not frustratingly slow – just in keeping with the laid back atmosphere of the eatery. The prices are fair, the portions are huge, and the food is really fantastic.

Now you remember how to follow the first rule of traveling.

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