November 28, 2013

Eat and Run: Don’s Lunch in Westbrook

RV'ing has never been so satisfying as at the converted Winnebago, where fresh fast food is the order of the day.

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

Sometimes a gal needs to get back to basics. Sometimes it’s OK to not try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to one’s lunch. Sometimes all that is needed to make things right in the world is a double cheeseburger, a side of fries and a cold can of Diet Pepsi. I mean, come on, even Julia Child must have craved this from time to time, right?

click image to enlarge

The double cheeseburger, called “The Big One,” and french fries served at Don’s Lunch on Main Street in Westbrook.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Don’s double cheeseburger, called “The Big One,” and french fries served by owner Jim Richards at Don’s Lunch on Main Street in Westbrook.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

DON’S LUNCH

WHERE: 517 Main St., Westbrook

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; closed on Sunday

WAIT: Five minutes

PARKING: Off-street

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: The ordering counter is not at wheelchair height, but staff can accomodate persons in wheelchairs.

Well, maybe not.

But for many of us, the aformentioned lunch is a portal to simpler times before beet salads and artisinal everything. The triumphant trio of burger, fries and soda is like a comfortable pair of shoes or an old favorite record in that it’s always available to you. Maybe you don’t wear those shoes or listen to that record all that often anymore, but boy is it ever nice to know those things are there for you, within easy reach, even. The same can be said of a hot-off-the-griddle and fresh-out-of-the-Fry-O-lator burger and fries.

Don’s Lunch in Westbrook can take you back to those simpler times. Operating out of a renovated 1978 Winnebago, Don’s isn’t out to dazzle you with fancy menu items or to break your bank with inflated prices. Au contraire! (Take that, Julia!) Don’s menu is fairly simple and the prices are terrific. The staff is as friendly as can be. I got there at 11:30 and the place was already hopping. It’s an institution in Westbrook.

The fun began immediately when the woman at the window called out my order to the cooks, transforming my double cheeseburger, fries and Diet Pepsi to “Double, Fries, Diet.” Maybe I’m easily amused, but I got a kick out of hearing my order and the ones that came after mine yelled out in this out out in this fashion.

Don’s is open year-round and there’s an array of outdoor seating, but it was a bit too chilly for me to dine al fresco. So after being handed my cardboard tray, I, like many lunchers around me, tucked into my car and dined with an FM radio soundtrack. I yanked the seat back, took my coat off and had a relaxing time noshing on the two thin patties with raw onions, ketchup, mustard and relish.

They have the usual range of condiments available, including celery salt. The burger, called “The Big One,” set me back $3.60. The single version is just $2.55, or a hamburger can be had for $2.25.

Other lunchables include the lobstah bun for $7.75, grilled cheese for $1.75, clam cake for $2, clam cake burger for $2.50, chicken sandwich for $2.80 and chicken nuggets for $2.75.

A side of fries, which are crispy, hot and tasty, is $1.95 and onion rings are $2.25.

And there you have it, that’s the entire menu save for extras like bacon, chili, cheese and sauerkraut (30 to 75 cents) and drinks (soda, milk, iced tea, fruit punch, coffee and hot chocolate).

While my meal flunked the healthy test, it passed the satisfying one with flying colors. It was fun eating in my car in the Don’s parking lot as I watched a steady stream of people, blue collar to business suits, step up to the Winnebago window and place their orders.

Don’s Lunch has been around since 1976 and I suspect it will be around for many years to come.

I loved every morsel of my lunch, and while it fell into the more basic food spectrum, that hardly mattered. It was the entire Don’s experience that pleased several of my senses on a mid-November morning.

The staff of GO samples meals for about $10.

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