The restaurant at the Handy Boat Marina in Falmouth just reopened under new management in September, with a new owner, new name, fresh drink specials and bar snacks.

Wind through the residential neighborhood along Route 88 in Falmouth, zip past a number of dark, hidden driveways, and you’ll likely notice a large sign for the Dockside Grill.

If the sign is lit up, the grill’s open. Drive on down.

There’ll be a second or two on the long, winding driveway when you’ll wonder if it’s the right way. Eventually, you see Casco Bay straight ahead and to the left is a parking lot.

You’ve arrived at the Handy Boat Marina, former home of the Falmouth Sea Grill, new home of the Dockside Grill.

There are more parking spaces than what seems needed, but this is likely a seasonal difference. While far less frequented during the colder months (compared to the summer’s flood of boaters and fans of al fresco dining), the Dockside Grill attracts a crowd most nights, even though the first-floor patio seating is closed by October.

Dockside’s second-floor, double-door entrance opens into a dim, carpeted lobby area (the restrooms are here, too).

Somewhat corporate-looking in nature, the Dockside Grill gives the first impression that it’s ordinary, reliable. And it is, in decor – but not necessarily in character.

With 75 seats total, including the outdoor areas, with room for about 12 at the bar, the Dockside Grill is practically a local hangout.

Older professionals stop here for a drink and a burger after work. A group of women meet at the bar, Parents, kids and grandparents gather and take in the panoramic views of the bay.

The bartender knows a few patrons by name and others she greets with a familiar nod.

Every night from 4 to 6 p.m. there’s $3 draft beer, $5 house wine, $5 mixed drinks, a $7 special cocktail of the day and $8 happy-hour food specials that include fish tacos, the Dockside burger, pulled pork nachos and Maine mussels.

However, get there at 6:01 and you’ll be cut off. No, really.

Fortunately, all day Sunday, Dockside Grill offers a bar menu with $3 draft beers and special appetizers, such as the Dockside sliders and the duck confit quesadilla.

The beers on tap are some local favorites, but they’re nowhere near the array of craft brews available these days.

Recently, Shipyard Export, Shipyard IPA, Gritty’s Halloween and Allagash White were on hand.

Otherwise, there’s a full bar, and dead center on the liquor shelf sit four plump glass urns filled with Dockside’s new house infusions: cherry- and ginger-infused whiskey; pomegranate and vodka; jalapeno tequila; and cucumber gin (all $9).

The cherry- and ginger-infused whiskey isn’t so much cherry as it is whiskey, and there’s little to no taste of ginger. Served on the rocks with a bit of soda, the drink’s not bad but with a few more iterations of the infusion, Dockside could be onto something.

The Handy Boat Marina has been part of Casco Bay since 1934 – thousands of people have stopped here year after year on holiday or for a daily outing.

The restaurant at Handy Boat has always been here, in some form or another, and despite a change of ownership, the service, quality and atmosphere remain fixed.

If you venture out in the winter, aim for an earlier hour, or at least around sunset, in order to get a sense of the full setting. Not from Falmouth? The views of Casco Bay will make the drive worth it. 

Claire Jeffers is a Portland freelance writer.

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