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Jan 1, 2013 07:57 PM

Nosh vs. Duckfat

I'm going to tell you something that you might not like, that you don't want to hear. I know Duckfat is the darling of casual foodie eateries and it's been written up in every publication in the country it seems. Nosh is like the guy who wears a baseball cap and a tuxedo t-shirt to your cousin's wedding. It's Man vs. Food, not No Reservations.

Nosh is the better casual eatery of the two and I don't think it's even close.

1. Nosh french fries are better. There, I said it. I keep giving Duckfat chances to make me remember what I thought their fries used to taste like, but more and more it seems like not only am I putting them behind Nosh, I'm putting them behind Five Guys. Bacon dusted and Salt and Vinegar Nosh fries are as good as it gets in these parts.

2. Duckfat keeps three good local beers on rotation. Nosh does the same but with three times the choice. Not a huge factor, just stating.

3. The sandwiches. I know it's not fair to compare paninis to a variety of sandwiches but in this case we have to. Last time I checked Duckfat doesn't have somebody there with a slicer carving up fresh meat all day. There is very little content in their panini for some of the prices. Nosh at the same price point gives far more in their sandwiches and I know the meat is of a higher quality. Compare a Nosh Gobbler to the Turkey panini and it's a no contest. Look at what they put in a steak sandwich or even the incredibly tasty Avocado on Naan.

I still like Duckfat and I'm not trying to put it down. I just wonder why every single person on here or on every other food site will tell a person to hit Duckfat when they come here and almost never mention Nosh. Somebody has to agree with me.

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  1. A few points. I agree you get more meat at Nosh, and their fries are very good.but duckfat soups are superior, and thier service is friendlier.Been to Nosh three times and would call the service bordering on rude.Definitely not warm and and welcoming.Also duckfat is tiny,nosh is huge in comparison,and to sum up, while duckfat is a bit over-hyped,Portland is lucky to have both.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LeRique

      Def lucky to have both.

      Where are you getting rude service from? Waitresses or at the bar? The owner is a great guy and the few other bartenders I've dealt with have been friendly enough.

      I know Rob talks about expanding the Duckfat empire at some point. Like to see a bigger version of it. I know it's cool to feel like you are in a space everyone wants to get into, but it doesn't always make for the best visit.

      1. re: grittys457

        Key word "bordering"just didn't feel welcome, waitresses and bar ,like i said I like both places and waiting in line for thirty min. I won't do except for dim sum in Boston.

        1. re: grittys457

          Check out my Yelp review for Nosh and the picture I uploaded of the 3 waitress / bartenders texting on their cells and ignoring customers in a half full restaurant on Saturday afternoon. In the top 5 of most horrible service experiences of all time. I mean, I honestly thought we were on some sort candid camera type of show. The burgers and fries are very good, I will give them props there. That said, I am not going to support a business that treats their customers like dirt.

          Duck Fat on the other hand, for having SLAMMED crowds in its small space are very efficient and courteous. And the sandwiches and fries are great. Honestly, it is pretty remarkable if think of the number of covers each restaurant does which I am sure Duckfat destroys Nosh on.

          Nosh could be great but they need to smarten up with who they hire and how they train/manage them. Being featured Man vs. Food is only going to help you for so long.

          1. re: Thebunk

            Wow, that's not good. I almost exclusively sit at the bar and go about once a week and always get great service. Matt the owner is probably the best owner frontman around as far as having a good personality. Even when I've sat at a table I've never had a problem with the waitresses. Not saying you got flukey service, just telling you my thoughts.
            I've worked in the food industry my whole life and yes I check my phone at work but I hide it from customers.....mostly.

            Again, it's more about the food. Like I said, I think Nosh's fries are way better. I think their variety of sandwiches, burgers and other choices are better. The beer is better, the space is better, there's more room, etc.

            When I leave Duckfat, I look at the bill and what I ate and think I really don't need to come back for some time.

            1. re: Thebunk

              Pretty scathing review and I hope the owners take it to heart. Like grittys I usually sit at the bar although I've also sat at the tables and have not noticed anything especially great or poor when it comes to service. It's always been completely satisfactory. In reading other yelp reviews I did notice several knocks about the service. It could very easily be one of those "when the boss is away..." type of deals. That's my theory of what may have happened with you. Hopefully they'll take your comments to their employees and straighten things out.
              I'll continue with my comparison with Duckfat on the service end. I think, because of Evan's background in fine dining, he probably runs a much tighter ship with the front of the house. I think Nosh is more laid back in their management style and sometimes employees will take advantage when the owner is not in the house. While duckfat is certainly not "fine dining" I would say it's much more refined than Nosh and that shows in the differences people may find with service. Also another reason why I tend not to compare the two.

              1. re: bobbert

                Thanks for reading the review. Not sure if you saw the picture of the three waitresses talking (1 had 2 phones in her hand). Objectively, I can agree on the space and variety in the menu, along with the cool countertop and number of beers on tap. I even had a good experience there (the first and only other time as the owner was serving us). Unfortunately, none of these things matter as I will never be going back short of the owner contacting me letting me know that all 3 women are no longer employed there.

                I should note that I did try to find a way to email them or contact them via Twitter but could not find anything (I don't have a Facebook account).

                1. re: Thebunk

                  I'm a bit amazed that in this day and age there is no email link on their web site but I couldn't find one either. I had a similar experience as you at another restaurant in Portland where the service (I sat at the bar) was so horrendous that I vowed never to return especially after writing the owner and receiving no responsd. As I had enjoyed the place on several other occasions and not written about my good experiences I decided not to crucify them publicly for the one bad time. After the non-response from the owner, I've regretted not doing so. I have been back with friends and had ok experiences but I always have a bad taste in my mouth. I've tried to avoid it as much as possible. I guess I know how you feel. Still hope the owner contacts you and straightens out his employees (rather than firing them).

        2. I think of the two as apples and oranges.
          1. While it's tempting to compare their fries (both are great though I'd probably give the nod to Duckfat by a very slim margin) I think the fact that they both have great fries is where the similarities end. As for fries I do like the varieties that Nosh offers. My latest favorite are the salt and pepper. I happen to like Five Guys fries but there's no comparison with Duckfat.
          2. Beer. Nosh a great beer bar. Duckfat is not. I've never gone to Duckfat for a beer. I've gone to Nosh many times for a beer but have never gone to Nosh for a milkshake.
          3. Sandwiches. I'm not a huge fan of Duckfat's panini's although the worst one I've had has been pretty good. One of my favorites was a grilled cheese ordered for a kid with us. Nosh sandwiches, for me, have run the gamut from great to gross. Great reuben. Really good and different burgers. Some sort of sandwich where they used chicken breasts as bread - gross. My wife (the healthy eater) usually vetoes Nosh so I most often solo at the bar although they have greatly increased their healthier choices this past year. The soups at Duckfat have no eqiviant at Nosh.
          To summarize, I don't consider the two to be in the same genre. I'm usually in the mood for one OR the other. Duckfat is probably over hyped which keeps me at arms length during tourist season. I hit Nosh at least monthly and rarely leave not totally disgusted with myself. I really like them both a lot.

          1. Personally, I think Duckfat is overrated. I recently made it in there for lunch (early Dec) and is was ridiculously packed for the off season. Too trendy = annoying! And when I last went there a few years ago (clearly not that compelled to return), I swear the paninis were better (bread & fillings were not as thin). For paninis, I prefer The Corner Room on upper Exchange St. With a lightly dressed green side salad, it's a much better meal & deal. Plus, Corner Room now takes reservations (Thank you, LHS!).

            At Nosh, I also recently enjoyed splitting the famous Apocalypse burger and was pleasantly surprised! I assumed it was a greasy gimmick, but the sweet cherry compote complimented the rich pork belly & fois gras quite nicely. Because of its richness (and not to mention price tag), I would not have enjoyed eating the whole burger myself. Split it along with a side of their great french fries! Yum!

            1 Reply
            1. re: inbox_blues

              Yeah, it feels like half the thing about going to Duckfat now is being there. Like it's an accomplishment or something. Still good food, just need to slow down the hype train and get some other places some love. To be honest, I would take the Crooked Mile (no french fries though) over it for a casual lunch spot.

              My other throught for a VS. topic was that the slab pizza at Scratch Baking is better than Miccucci's but that might have got me banned instantly by a mod, lol