Jessica Holbrook taste-tests the pierogi burger; bacon, egg and cheese burger; sauerkraut balls; Philly steak with sweet potato fries and Northwest Apple Salad at Menches Brothers.
I love a good story and a good burger, and luckily for me, Menches Brothers delivers both.
The restaurant—with locations in Green, Massillon and Perry Township—dates back to the late 1800s. According to restaurant lore, brothers Frank and Charles Menches were serving pork sandwiches at the 1885 Erie County (New York) Fair when they ran out of the key ingredient. They substituted seasoned ground beef, and thus the hamburger was born.
Menches also lays claim to the invention of the waffle cone, which they concocted at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and went on to sell at its Premium Cone and Candy Factory in downtown Akron.
No offense to Menches, but both claims—especially the ice cream cone, which has a well-documented history—are dubious.
But even if they didn’t invent the hamburger, they make a pretty great one.
Menches’ menu boasts 50 different varieties of hamburgers with toppings ranging from the traditional (cheese, bacon, mushrooms) to the unexpected (fried cheese sticks, an entire hot dog, pulled pork).
I’m no purist, so I opted for the Pierogi Burger ($9.49), which came topped with garlic mashed potatoes, Wisconsin cheddar and smoked bacon. Everything about this burger was rich. The bun was soft and buttery, the mashed potatoes were just the right amount of salty and the bacon was crisp. It was undeniably delicious but really needed something sharp, such as onion, to cut into all those heavy flavors.
My husband, Dave, enjoyed the self-descriptive Bacon, Egg & Cheese Burger ($9.49), especially the perfectly fried egg that was just the right amount of runny.
He also praised the crispy battered french fries. I went with a side of sweet potato fries ($1.59 substitution) that were disappointingly bland and soggy.
We both asked for burgers cooked medium-rare and were served well-done burgers, but despite being a little dry, the meat was still flavorful.
We shared an order of sauerkraut balls ($6.99). The Akron classic—battered deep-fried balls of sauerkraut and corned beef—came with a side of cocktail sauce, an unexpectedly delicious combination. Sauerkraut balls are one of those foods that can easily go astray but these were crunchy, tangy and addicting. I’d happily order them again.
We planned to end our meal by sampling Menches other claim to fame, but the restaurant was out of ice cream cones every time I visited. One waitress assured me that I wasn’t missing anything special, as the cones are no longer made in house. I appreciated the honesty but still wish I could have discovered their mediocrity myself.
If you’re not a fan of burgers, don’t fret. Menches has a huge menu with a plethora of options including pizza, pasta, wings, sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads and a weekend brunch. It’s an ideal place to take a picky eater.
I grabbed a carryout Philly Steak ($9.99) for a quick weeknight dinner. Like the burger, the sandwich was rich, greasy and delicious. The meat resembled chopped hamburger more than steak but was tasty and matched well with the soft grilled onions, peppers and gooey provolone cheese.
I wanted something lighter for a lunch, so I ordered the Northwest Apple Salad ($10.99), which came topped with crisp green apples, grilled chicken, raisins, a smattering of crushed walnuts and crumbled blue cheese. I’m a big fan of blue cheese and Craisins on salads and mistakenly assumed raisins would have a similar effect, but the combination was just odd. And while I loved the fresh-tasting apples and juicy chicken, the lettuce was starting to turn brown, and the ratio of toppings was way off. I left a lot of sad, limp iceberg on my plate.
We reviewed Menches’ Green location, which is tucked into a shopping plaza on Massillon Road near the I-77 exit.
The restaurant has a decidedly casual, family-friendly feeling and is decorated with chalkboards, Cleveland sports memorabilia and historic photos of the venture’s early days. The wooden booths and Tiffany-style light fixtures reminded me of going to restaurants with my family as a kid in the ’90s. The nostalgia, combined with the food, was comforting.
I don’t know if I could recommend Menches for a first date or fancy night out. And it’s definitely not the kind of place to eat healthy. But if you want a casual night out with people who won’t care if dinner gets messy, it’s pretty great.