It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in the Portland area for almost 20 years and have never been to The Old Port Sandwich Shop. Heck, I almost applied for a job there in the mid-’90s, but didn’t. I had not walked over their threshold until a few days ago.

As soon as I was inside the place I knew I had been missing out. But since regret doesn’t achieve much and certainly doesn’t quell the rumbling in my stomach, I let myself off the hook and surveyed the vast offerings on big chalkboards above the counter.

I inquired if they had any gluten-free bread products (I’m going through a phase) and they said they didn’t but that they soon would. They made good on this promise a few days later and as a result, I have two lunches to tell you about.

My first foray into Old Port Sandwich Shop tastiness came in the form of creamy tomato soup ($3.75 for a cup, $4.55 for a bowl) and an antipasto salad ($6.99). The soup had just the right amount of zip and was a perfect way to kick off this fall’s soup season.

Next up was the salad. I liked it. I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it, but I liked it plenty. The portion was quite generous and featured a ton of lettuce, cukes and a few other usual salad suspects. Atop it was a roll-up of salami, ham, turkey and provolone cut into four pieces. I would have appreciated perhaps a little artichoke heart, roasted red pepper and some olives, but the definition of antipasto is a broad one, so I can’t fault them for what they served.

About four days later I was greeted by a “we now have gluten free” sign at the counter. They offer several types of bread and, much to my delight, three flavors of ciabatta rolls. The upcharge for this is a dollar and it was worth every cent.

I opted for the plain and went with the egg salad sandwich that came with, much to my taste buds’ delight, a slice of cheddar cheese on it. How have I never made this connection before? Cheese on an egg salad sandwich is a bold move and yet an obvious one. It added a certain je ne sais quoi to a lovely sandwich that was overflowing with tasty egg salad. I never thought I’d come close to finishing the thing, but of course I did. In a word: yum!

On my next visit I plan on ordering something from the grill, like a Reuben ($7.99), a BBQ chicken bomb ($7.45) or a bacon cheeseburger ($6.25).

The Old Port Sandwich shop also has a mess of wraps, salad and fried offerings to choose from and one of the best-stocked sections of beverages, chips and baked goods I’ve seen in some time.

I daresay the place is an Old Port institution that I’m happy to be committed to.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:[email protected]