Duckfat in Portland is a small sandwich shop with some incredible panini options, making it tough for someone flying solo for lunch. Given the restaurant’s name, duck confit with napa cabbage slaw, cilantro, and spicy mayo tempted me, and I could barely resist the roasted pork belly with fennel relish, jalapeño, and caramelized miso.
Rising to the top, though, was the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben Panino ($9) with marinated cabbage, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. Made with ciabatta instead of rye, the fresh bread had a crunchy crust while maintaining a chewy interior. And who needs brisket when you have tongue, which was terrific—succulent with a salty, almost gamey flavor. The cabbage offered contrasting crispiness and slight sweetness to the meat, while the melted cheese and the dressing lubricated the whole affair in a tasty way without turning it into a mess.
No stop at Duckfat is complete without an order of Hand-Cut Belgian Fries ($5 for the small, pictured, or $6.50 large) made with local Maine potatoes and fried (double-fried, actually) in duck fat, of course. Served in a paper cone, mine were perfectly salted, crispy, and delicious. There are eight homemade dipping sauces available; I think my choice of horseradish mayo helped pull the whole meal together.
(Originally published at Serious Eats on April 22.)