March 24, 2011

Eat and Run: Docks Seafood, South Portland

When you see the food at Docks, you’re going to want to eat it.

From staff reports

Opening a seafood restaurant in the Portland area must be intimidating. It's not like there aren't already a bunch of good ones.

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Docks Seafood in South Portland is both restaurant and fish market.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Brenda Mershimer prepares to serve several lunch orders fresh from Docks’ kitchen. Besides seafood, Docks serves burgers, chicken, kids’ meals and more.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 15 Evans St., South Portland; 899-4433. Docks does not yet have a website, but it does offer free Wi-Fi.

HOURS: The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The market is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

CHEAPEST GRUB: $2.50 for a grilled hot dog. Least-expensive seafood item is clam or fish chowder for $3.99.

WAIT: We had our food within five minutes.

PARKING: Plenty of parking on site.


RATING: *****

*Based on a five-star scale

If you do it, you'd better do it well.

Docks Seafood on Evans Street in South Portland does it well. It's a newly opened local fish place that's affordable, and it serves fresh seafood in a variety of formats and styles.

We stopped in for lunch over the weekend and were pleased with the quality of the food, the friendly and efficient service and -- last but not least -- the price.

Docks occupies an interesting geographical location in the local restaurant scene. It sits at the corner of Evans and Broadway in a building that has become something of a turnstile for local eateries in recent years.

Before Docks, it was Three Brothers. Before that, it was J.P. Thornton's. Thornton's, of course, moved down the street to a new development closer to Knightville, where it seems to be thriving.

Docks should enjoy success at this location. In addition to its operation as a restaurant, it's also a fish market with a full line of fresh seafood, so there is great opportunity for building a following and a committed local customer base, especially among folks headed home after work or those looking for a quick lunch.

Docks is operated by Bob Coppersmith. For years, he owned Bob's Seafood in North Windham. Coppersmith has sold his Windham store and hopes to replicate the success he had there.

For lunch, we ordered a variety of dishes, including a spectacular fish taco, a fried haddock sandwich and a bowl of clam chowder. All met or exceeded our hopes.

The taco ($4.99) was my favorite. The haddock meat came in small chucks smothered in coleslaw and wrapped in a soft tortilla. It truly was a splendid experience because of the variety of tastes. The fish was fresh, moist and light, and the slaw was tangy.

My only complaint was the tortilla. It was too small. I ended up eating most of the taco with a fork, because the tortilla simply couldn't hold the ingredients. A larger tortilla would be helpful.

Similarly, I loved the chowder. For $3.99, we received a good-sized cup that was packed with large chunks of clams and a creamy base. The haddock sandwich ($6.99) was lightly breaded and fried, and also very good. My fear when ordering fried haddock is the grease. I detected very little grease, and was pleasantly surprised with the overall texture of the sandwich.

The menu is extensive. As I said, we went for lunch, but dinner beckons. I look forward to trying the whole-belly fried clams ($15.99), and my wife would like to try the coconut shrimp ($10.99). The lobster quesadilla and lobster nachos might be worth sampling ($12.99 each).

Docks also has burgers, chicken and hot dogs, along with chicken nuggets and grilled cheese for children. Docks steams clams, lobsters and mussels, as well as peel-and-eat shrimp. It truly is a full-service seafood market.

Check it out. I doubt you will be disappointed.

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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