It was a Wednesday in late March when I got the itch to get out of the office and dash up to Freeport to check out a joint I had walked by dozens of times while on shopping excursions, but had never really given the time of day. That place was Derosier’s, and I soon found out it has a history longer than even L.L. Bean.
Derosier’s has been open since 1904, and it’s been a family affair the entire time. Current owner Philip Derosier is the great-great-grandson of founder Augusta Derosier. While sitting in a booth eating my lunch, I saw old photographs and articles displayed on the wall that made it clear this place was something of a landmark.
The reverence by locals and folks from away is evidenced by the fact that Derosier’s has stood the test of time through the Depression, wars, economic downturns and certainly plenty of competition.
OK. But how was the food? Let me start by saying the options were many.
Soups of the day were roasted red pepper with smoked gouda, chicken with wild rice, and chili con carne, and they all were tempting. Then I thought about pizza.
I was glad to see Derosier’s offers slices ($2.79 for cheese, add 35 cents per topping), because fewer and fewer places do. It sure looked and smelled good.
From there, I perused the salad options. Along with the usual suspects like the Greek, antipasto and buffalo chicken, Derosier’s actually has something called The Salad Salad Salad Salad. For $6.79, you get a fresh garden salad with scoops of homemade chicken, tuna and egg salad.
That sounded delicious, but I still was on the hunt.
Derosier’s has a vast array of sandwiches, including 10 kinds of Italians ranging from $3.49 to $3.99 for a half and $4.99 to $6.79 for a whole.
It gets extra points for offering half-sandwiches. The only thing they don’t halve are wraps.
When I got to the hot subs list, I knew I was close to a decision. These range from $3.99 to $4.29 for a half to $5.99 to $7.79 for a whole.
Options include a ham toasty, a roast beef toasty and several others in the “toasty” family. Don’t think for a moment I wasn’t amused when I heard a construction worker-looking chap order a “turkey toasty.” I digress.
The second half of the hot sub list is where I hit my stride, landing on half a chicken parmigiana sub.
To wash it down, I ordered a Mexicane cola from Maine Root Handcrafted Beverages. I liked the idea of it being sweetened with 100 percent, fair trade-certified organic sugar. What I wasn’t crazy about was the taste. Next time, I’ll stick with root beer or sarsaparilla.
Salvation was found in the chicken parm. The roll was crispy and hot, and the chicken was tender beneath its blanket of tasty sauce and cheese. I forced myself, somehow, to not shovel it down in my usual fashion. I surely could have polished off a full-sized one, but it was a refreshing choice not to leave a restaurant stuffed to the gills.
One more thing: I was not alone on this lunch venture. I was accompanied by a junior at a local high school who drew the short straw and job-shadowed me for a few days. So I put her to work, and although I offered her the moon and stars from the menu, she settled on the garden salad ($4.99).
She reported to me later that she was impressed by the size for the price, and noted fresh mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, olives and green pepper.
Although she wasn’t sure of the type of cheese Derosier’s used, she would have preferred something a bit more tangy or sharp. Fair enough.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.