Even those on a French fry budget can get a taste of Portland Chef Rob Evans’s renowned cuisine. Evans’s fine dining restaurant, Hugo’s, long a local favorite, gained national attention in 2004, when “Food & Wine’ named him one America’s Best New Chefs, and this year and in 2007, he was nominated for a James Beard Award. Those who don’t have the money, time, or inclination to sample Evans’s creative cuisine at Hugo’s can saunter across the street to his far more casual, order-at-the-counter joint, Duckfat.
Paninis, soups, and salads all hint at Evans’s creativity and his preference for using locally sourced, fresh ingredients, but it’s the fries that earn the most accolades. Not just any fries, mind you, but Belgian fries. These handcut, perfectly seasoned potatoes are fried, actually double fried, in, yes, duck fat, and served in a paper cone. Each order is accompanied by a choice of sauces, such as housemade curry, roasted garlic, or horseradish mayos or even truffled ketchup.
To ratchet up the experience, order Evans’s version of the French-Canadian specialty poutine: crispy fries layered with homemade duck gravy and Maine cheese curd. I swear, you can actually feel your arteries clamp down while your thighs expand.
What the heck, go for broke: Smooth it down with a milkshake made with local Smiling Hill Farm ice cream. Available in six flavors and malted, the shakes are so thick that a straw stands straight up in the center.
Too heavy, too much? Lighten the meal with an all-natural, homemade soda—perhaps lemon-verbena, mint & lime, or ginger brew. And for dessert—hey, why not–order a beignet, a doughnut hole topped with powdered, spiced or cinnamon sugars and/or chocolate sauce.