March 25, 2012

Dine Out Maine: David's 388 is a classic, and it's easy to see why


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An excellent date locale, David's 388 is worth the trip to South Portland.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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David's 388 was opened five years ago by David Turin, who also owns David's in Monument Square in Portland.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer


DAVID'S 388, 388 Cottage Road, South Portland;


HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

BAR: Full bar






KID-FRIENDLY: No kids' menu


BOTTOM LINE: David's 388 is a South Portland neighborhood treat for high-end casual food lovers.  Intimate and cozy, the kitchen creates meals that feel fancy, not fussy, and with $7 appetizers and $15 main dishes, dining here is an accessible treat. An excellent date locale, David's 388 is worth the trip over the bridge.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value: ★Poor  ★★Fair  ★★★Good ★★★★Excellent ★★★★★Extraordinary. The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.

"The Sophia Loren of entrees," Travis noted while the rest of the table nodded in agreement. "Not to everyone's taste and to the haters a has-been, but to me? Timeless. A standard for elegance." I am paraphrasing. My husband has a longstanding crush on Sophia Loren, and I zoned out for this moment of dinner conversation. If he did not say exactly these words, it was something close.

The beef tenderloin, also served rare, was wrapped in smoked bacon, presented on a reduction sauce of Madeira, and accompanied by asparagus and carrots. Madeira and beef is a perfect union of sweet and savory, chewy and smooth.

David's 388 takes plain haddock and elevates it to royal status with lobster cream and risotto. This white-on-white dish, flavored with vanilla, was the surprise favorite. I was expecting the caramelized onions, but the touch of silky vanilla is a genius idea.

Which brings me to dessert (each $7). Yes, David's 388 does standards like creme brulee and cookies with ice cream well, but I encourage readers to try something more edgy.

The Chocolate Brownie Napoleon with vanilla ice cream and rum flambeed bananas was as if boy-next-door Bananas Foster grew 6 inches, spent the summer in the gym and arrived at the senior prom in a Ferrari. Chocolate, banana, rum and ice cream -- taste after taste and texture after texture.

Ditto the Chocolate Pecan Tartlette with Kentucky Bourbon Sauce. This is easily one of my favorite desserts, but I find it difficult to describe something so crumbly and rich, seductive and perfect, so go. Just go get some yourself. Today.

Once a restaurant gets to the top, how does it stay there? If you are restaurateur David Turin, you do what you do best, do it consistently for many years and then expand to another location. Go to David's 388. If you live across the bridge, it will save you the trip into town. If not, it's well worth the drive. 

Shonna Milliken Humphrey is a Maine freelance writer and author of the novel "Show Me Good Land."


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