South Portland (and particularly the long thoroughfare that is Cottage Road) has become a popular stomping ground for culinary activity in recent years. But you might say that David’s 388 helped kick off this SoPo food-centric trend when they opened seven years ago at the wide corner of Cottage and Pillsbury roads.
Chef/owner David Turin, the owner of David’s in Monument Square, creates imaginative American-style fare and doesn’t shy away from seasonal changes. This is consistent for the drink menu as well. The cocktail list changes with the seasons and stays in line with 388’s overall feel, which is classic and simple with their own unique twist.
There’s a concise list of seven cocktails, such as the apricot fizz or the Cape Elizabeth (pomegranate vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice on the rocks), all for $9. This is relatively cheap for cocktails these days, especially noting 388’s $23 burger (their $13 burger is served without seared foie gras).
For the diehard beer fanatic who needs to always be drinking the next best thing in local craft beer (and wants to see a wide variety), 388 may not be your first choice. The beer list is short and sweet with a few local craft beer selections and your average crowd pleasers.
But as with any small neighborhood bistro, David’s has a great wine list that’s authentic and down to earth. The by the glass options are reasonable and there’s plenty to choose from.
Most, if not all, of the people at the bar on a recent night were drinking wine, which might say something about 388’s clientele. Largely made up of locals and nearby hotel guests (Inn by the Sea often sends their guests to 388), the crowd is well behaved, sophisticated and friendly. Many have been dining here since the beginning.
While the bar is centered in the front dining room in a snug square of a space, the chef’s table, which overlooks the open kitchen, is an exciting spot to watch Chef David’s menu come to life.
The bar does not take reservations but the chef’s table does, along with the other 10 tables in the restaurant. Walk-ins are welcome but reservations are encouraged, even on weeknights. On a recent Tuesday, they served 58 people.
It’s clear 388 has managed to stick around for this long not just for one major success (the food) but also for the reliable atmosphere, the reasonable prices and a chef who encourages thoughtful seasonal changes.
WHERE: 388 Cottage Road, South Portland
HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and Sunday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
SPECIALS: No happy hour. New drink menu every season.
AMENITIES: Chef’s table, adorable bathrooms, comfortable seating, nice lighting, no loud music
PARKING: Street parking
BOTTOM LINE: David’s 388 is a classic South Portland bistro that offers a cozy bar area (and offers a full bar menu), a unique chef’s table that overlooks the open kitchen, and reasonable prices for cocktails, beer and wine.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes