Place: David’s
Time: 5:45 pm, Saturday December 13, 2008
With: Hubby & Sabrina
Where: 22 Monument Square, Portland, Maine

I love A Christmas Carol. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas time. I try to see as many versions of it as I can every December. So of course, Hubby, Sabrina and I had tickets to see the Portland Stage Company’s version. And in order to make it a perfect evening, we decided on one of my favorite places to eat – David’s.

I hadn’t been to David’s in over a year… there’s just so many places to try in Portland. It hadn’t changed much since I had been there. Not much, but enough…

David’s is located in a prime location downtown, directly across from the titular monument in Monument Square. It is on the small side (they would say intimate) but tastefully decorated in late 80’s cosmopolitan chic. We were lead to the bar area, and sat in front of the window. I said “Oh. The Bar” because I had made a reservation all special like, with the telephone and all. She said “Oh. They should have told you when they gave you the reservation that you were sitting in the bar.” Then she glared at me and stalked away.

And that is one of my problems with David’s. Yes, it is a nice restaurant. And yes, the food is (usually) good. But the staff is so self important! If I have made a reservation and I have the money to pay for my food, then you, as my server / hostess / sitter should do what you can to make me comfortable. I felt as if I was the unwanted stinky kid in the second grade Valentine’s Day card swap.

There are two things that I salivate over when I think about going to David’s. The first is the Garlic Knots, and the second is the Clam Chowder. The garlic knots are little twists of dough, baked and drenched in a garlic butter herb sauce. They are decadent and more addictive than heroin. Not that I’ve tried heroin, ’cause ew, plus ick, but you know what I mean. Sadly, this time our garlic knots were not cooked. They were doughy and raw. It doesn’t set off a meal right to put little balls of raw dough in your belly. The clam chowder used to be a triumph. It was creamy and spicy and had a hint of brown sugar in it. And it does have all of those ingredients in it, still. But sadly again, this time it was burnt. You can tell that they scalded the cream. And at 5:45pm that leads to a long night of them serving bad chowder.

The one high point of the night was the Goat Cheese Tartlet. Hubby and Sabrina shared it while I had the chowder. It was very tasty and perfectly cooked. It was just enough to be a perfect appetizer, but not enough to spoil your meal.

For the main course Sabrina had the Salmon, Hubby had the Mixed Grill, and I had the Pork Oscar. All of which were fine – they were cooked well and had nice presentation. But they were missing something – some specialness that used to be here, but is not. It’s a little sad.

Bottom line? If you want great food, good atmosphere, and nice down to earth staff, go to Katahdin. Skip David’s. Its time is past.

2 out of 5 stars.

What would make it 5 stars:

1. Train the staff to actually care about the customers. A little kindness and less hoity-toity shenanigans would go a long way to forgiving a burnt chowder.

2. Take out one or two tables – There was a two top behind Sabrina that no one, not even a stick insect, could have squeezed into.

3. Take the time to do it right. COOK the garlic knots. Watch the chowder.

4. Don’t coast on your laurels, ’cause they are fleeting. Obviously.

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2 Responses to David’s

  1. karin says:

    I agree with your assessment of David’s. Have been there twice, and was not impressed. But I highly recommend their sister restaurant David’s 388 in South Portland. Excellent!!!

  2. james says:

    Hmm, I have eaten at David’s many times over the year and have always had a great experience. It has consistently had great food, and i should say I can be somewhat of a critic at times. That said, every restaurant has off nights… give it another shot and I don’t think you will be disappointed!

    On another note, Katahdin is good too… but VERY pricey (and significantly more expensive than David’s).

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