Herbie's Good Grub (formerly Herbie's Heroes) is a quaint little Massillon, Ohio sandwich shop that offers up a real funky ambiance with made-to-order sandwiches, pizzas, and subs. They are located on Amherst Road just north of Lake Avenue in the same shopping plaza as Marc's. They have several tables set up outside and several more inside, so unless you try going during their busy times, you should be able to snag a seat to eat your meal.
When you first walk into Herbie's, you can't help but notice the entire menu written on several blackboards along one wall:
The friend who clued me in to Herbie's suggested I try the cheeseburger sub and fries. After looking over the menu, I decided to go with his suggestion. I paid for my meal, sat down and started looking around the room. The nostalgia of Herbie's is captured on the walls with old Rolling Stone magazine covers as well as LP record album covers of 1960's and 1970's bands such as Elton John, Led Zeppelin, and Fleetwood Mac. The individually sized pizzas that they offer on the menu tie into this time period theme with such concoctions as the Heavy Metal, Psychedelic, and Disco.
On every table is a pamphlet about Herbie's. Here are a few shots of the outside and inside of the menu:
After about 10 minutes or so, my food finally arrived at my table piping hot right off the grill. First up, a shot of my cheeseburger sub and fries:
And a shot from a different angle:
And a shot of the burger from the side showing you all of the layers:
A couple of things to note. First, while you can pretty much construct your sub however you would like it, by default it comes with your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Italian salad dressing. I chose to nix the onion and kept everything else. Second, as you can see in the photo, the sandwich is actually composed of two burger patties laid next to each other on a hoagie roll. So, with the sandwich cut in half, you get the equivalent of two regular burgers. Finally, you have the option of having your hoagie roll toasted or not; I opted for toasted.
Before I go into my description of my meal, I just want to note that while I love hearing about new places to try from the tens of you out there who read my blog, it can be kind of a thin line to walk. On the one hand, you clearly wouldn't be recommending the place if you didn't think it had something unique and/or tasty to offer. At the same time, I have to balance being as real to my experience as I can without running the risk of destroying someone's cherished childhood memories about a favorite eatery. It's wonderful when a restaurant's past accomplishments can live up to today's realities. But it doesn't always happen. That being said ...
As you can see from the pictures above, the patties were nice and juicy. And the tomato was really very good. It was a brilliant red and completely ripe and sweet. For a conventionally grown tomato this tasty in May, they must have a very good supplier. The shredded lettuce and American cheese were exactly as you would expect them to be. The hoagie roll was nice and fresh and you got that little extra bit of texture from the toasted inside.
This was a good sandwich. Unfortunately, this was not a great sandwich. The Italian dressing definitely added something interesting to the mix. But it didn't accomplish what I think it should have by adding that much needed vinegar note to balance the fattiness of the burger. The other problem I noticed was that it just didn't have enough salt to zero in and lock in the flavors of all the ingredients. Sure, the cheese and the dressing added some salt, but when I managed to taste a bit of the hamburger patty itself, it wasn't seasoned enough. That being said, it wasn't as if this was missing salt altogether. And to be fair, salt and pepper shakers were available to add additional seasoning. However, I am of the opinion that food should come out of the kitchen ready to eat, no additional salt required.
The fries were definitely the star of the plate. Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, not greasy, nicely seasoned with something more than just salt, these were a real winner. No ketchup was required. You could tell that there was more than just salt on the fries by looking at them. It was quite obvious by seeing a good bit of red and black flecks that this was a blend of some type. The friend who suggested Herbie's originally thought it might be seasoning salt, but I'm not convinced of that. Most seasoning salts I've tasted have a weird metallic taste to them and I definitely didn't pick up on this as I was eating my fries.
I was excited to learn that on Fridays and Saturdays, Herbie's breaks out the BBQ pit and actually slowly cooks up pork shoulder in order to be able to serve pulled pork sandwiches. Being a lover of pork myself, and especially of a good pulled pork sandwich, I may just have to make a weekend trip back down to Massillon to check them out again.
I think Herbie's does a lot of things right. And if they took some time to dial in those last few elements to some of their food, I think they would be outright delicious all around. When I return for the pulled pork sandwich, I hope to be able to sample a few more items off their menu. I hope that if you are in the area, you'll give them a shot and make up your own mind.