There’s a number in the musical “A Chorus Line” that brings down the house every time. “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” is an anthem about style and substance and the often skewed relationship between the two. If you think that talent trumps appearance, a newly voluptuous hoofer sings, you’ll have to think again.

I heard a customer humming that song after she folded her napkin and walked away from David’s KPT in Kennebunkport last week. Point taken. The restaurant, on the first floor of the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, is certainly great looking. With a high-ceilinged dining room painted a deep navy blue, columns intricately wrapped in rope (part of a marine-inspired design theme) and a dramatically lighted bar, it’s got style in spades. But substance? Not so much. The hallmark of the cuisine at David Turin’s Kennebunkport eatery seems to be inconsistency. Some of the dishes look ravishing and taste delicious, others are distinctly disappointing and seriously short on flavor. What gives?

Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Turin’s South Portland restaurant, David’s 388, and haven’t had a poor meal there. (His empire also includes David’s Monument Square and David’s Opus Ten.) So an evening at KPT started with high hopes. Too bad they were dashed by the waitress: Though efficient, she was noticeably cool and only willing to offer suggestions about the evening’s best dishes when pressed. She also seemed overworked (“this may take a little while,” she said when we ordered a bottle of wine) and undertrained: At a white tablecloth restaurant with most entrees priced above $25, stacking the dishes boarding house-style strikes a discordant note.

Worse, several of her recommendations fell flat. A seafood sausage appetizer ($11) looked luscious – the thickly cut rounds of sausage containing lobster, scallops and salmon were as colorful as a Broadway marquee – but the texture seemed dry and the consistency reminiscent of canned albacore tuna packed in water instead of oil. Perhaps a slice from the middle would be moister? No such luck. The seafood in this artfully composed package tasted overcooked.

A plate of potstickers and sliced beef ($11) proved more of a mixed bag. An arugula salad on the plate was terrific – the spicy leaves lightly slicked with a tart, bright dressing – but the dumplings themselves were pallid. We tried to identify the filling (meat? vegetables?) without success. At least the generous portion of sliced beef added to the plate was good. Barely cooked through, deeply tender and juicy, it paired beautifully with that peppery salad.

One appetizer at KPT was a showstopper. The roasted beet salad ($12) looked like a set designer’s dream, with slices of gold and red beets, piped pillows of white goat cheese yogurt and a vivid slash of burgundy-colored beet gastrique across one side of the plate. And the flavor? One singular sensation: intensely sweet beets flattered by the slightly sour yogurt and adorned with a handful of candied pecans. One of several vegetarian items on the menu, this plate was balanced and tasty enough to please a carnivore.

Turin’s skill with comfort classics shined through in a few entrees, especially pan-roasted chicken breast ($24). The brined breast was moist and mildly salty, with a skin so crispy it nearly started a fight at the table. And the cranberry-orange chutney that tagged along was a fine addition – filled with whole berries that exploded on the tongue like tiny balloons packed with fruit essence. A generous serving of KPT meatloaf ($19) was pretty good, as well. Not exactly surprising, but both flavorful and filling and served with a mound of appealingly lumpy garlic mashed potatoes. (As good as the pork-and-beef meatloaf was served hot, I couldn’t help thinking how it would taste cold, tucked between slices of bread for lunch.)

Meat-based entrees may be the way to go at David’s KPT, because, despite the lovely seaside setting and the seafood options on the menu, the fish and shellfish entrees we tried missed the mark. Take the pepper-crusted tuna ($27) served with soba noodles. Like most everything here, the dish looked marvelous, with thin slices of rare tuna fanned across the plate, a few spears of asparagus and a mound of sesame peanut soba noodles piled up like a tiny, fragile bird’s nest. But the glistening slices of tuna smacked of pepper – nothing more – and the noodles were gummy, with none of the nutty flavor that makes soba so appealing. Another seafood option, the oddly named “open-faced lobster ravioli” ($28), turned out to be a square of pasta, like a lasagna sheet, topped not just with lobster, but with scallops, shrimp and ricotta, plus green beans and julienned vegetables, covered – well, immersed – in a lake of sherry cream sauce. It was too much of a good thing – lobster Newburg on steroids.

Had we skipped dessert, we might have left disappointed. Thank goodness we didn’t. David’s KPT brings down the curtain with a selection of crowd-pleasers that deserves an ovation. The house cheesecake ($8) alone – a silky, creamy, ethereal slice – is reason enough to stand up and cheer. Equally good is a bowl of the chef’s “smoosh-in” ($8) – a brownie blended with ice cream and topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua. Evocative of childhood? Sure. Boozy? Yes. Rich? Are you kidding?

David’s KPT delivers with those desserts, and the ambiance of the place is unfailingly alluring. It’s just the cooking that’s uneven. I asked the customer who was humming the melody from “Chorus Line” what she thought of the place and her meal. “Looks: Ten,” she answered instantly. “Food: Three.”

James H. Schwartz has covered food, travel and architecture for The Washington Post, Downeast, Coastal Living and Southern Living magazines. He received the Maine Press Association’s First Place Critic’s Award in 2015.

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