An old high school friend and reader of my blog clued me in to one of her favorite eateries in Ellet, Ohio, Molly Brown's Kitchen. Located just five minutes from my house, I was surprised to learn of this restaurant since I have probably driven by it hundreds of times on my way to work and back. Located at 518 Canton Road in the Eastgate Ellet Plaza, they are hidden amongst a myriad of other stores. While there is currently no website for Molly Brown's, they can be reached at 330-784-4711 (phone) and 330-784-4713 (fax).
Before going, I did try and do as much research as I could by reading comments left by past diners on various Internet sites. Most of the people commented on the excellent food, but some people were put off by the small portions and the expensive menu. Armed with this bit of knowledge, I headed off this morning around 10:30 AM for a late breakfast. Here is a photo of the front of the restaurant:
The first thing I discovered was that there is no down or slow time at Molly Brown's. The entire time I was there it was packed with people. There wasn't any wait today, but it wouldn't surprise me if the next time I go there would be. Once I was finally seated, I started looking over the menu:
Do note that Molly Brown's is only open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week. This is why I had to wait until a Saturday to actually go, since I'm at work during the weekdays. The menu was fairly typical of a joint serving breakfast and lunches. Lots of the classics: eggs, waffles, pancakes, French toast, breakfast meats. Lunch items were also pretty typical with a nice selection of sandwiches and salads.
The first thing that struck me as odd was when I saw these on the table to be used as condiments:
Knowing that some people like to use hot sauce on their eggs, I didn't give it too much thought. But it was when I was perusing the breakfast items and I found four classic Mexican breakfast dishes that I figured I had better ask some questions when my server returned to take my order. When my server returned, it was then that I learned that the owner's husband is actually Mexican and these dishes were an ode to his heritage. Three of the dishes, huevos rancheros, chorizo and eggs, and a breakfast burrito I had seen or heard of before. The fourth dish, machacas and eggs, was something I had never heard of. When my server actually recommended it to me, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this very unique dish.
As soon as my server walked away, I immediately pulled out my smartphone and starting Googling away. Wikipedia provided a nice review of what machaca actually is and how it is used. Other links provided recipes and further discussion. It seems that machaca was originally marinated air-cured beef (kind of like beef jerky) that was then rehyrdrated and mixed in to other dishes. In the case of my dish, it would be combined with scrambled eggs. Since the advent of refrigeration, most treatments of machaca are now made by marinating the beef over night and then cooking it slowly to allow the connective tissue to break down. The meat is then shredded and used in whatever dish they are going into.
Confident that by the time my server returned I knew more about the item on the menu than even she did, I was greeted with something that looked like it came out of a Mexican kitchen rather than a fine country dining establishment like Molly Brown's. Here is a shot of my machacas and eggs:
And a shot of the warm corn tortillas that came as a side:
Everything about this meal stood out as flavorful and unique. The eggs had been cooked scrambled perfectly and with the added beef and roasted peppers, it had a depth of beefy flavor that was just wonderful. It had some melted shredded cheese on top, but honestly, it wasn't even necessary. I managed to isolate a piece of the beef from the eggs and took a shot:
The other primary players on the plate, the Mexican rice and the refried beans were also excellent. I was worried about the rice because at a place that is not primarily known for it's Mexican fare, not-so-fresh rice could be a definite possibility. Not here. It was seasoned perfectly and every single bite was moist and had the perfect chew. Besides the machacas and eggs, the other standout on my plate today was the refried beans. These were definitely not beans that had come out of a can or had simply been rehydrated with water. They had such a rich depth of flavor that I was convinced that they had been fried in bacon fat. It turns out that I was close. When I went up to pay my check, I actually spoke with the owner and her husband and their refried beans are done the traditional way, in lard. They were excellent.
The two condiments on my plate were sour cream and guacamole. The sour cream was pretty standard, but I absolutely loved the fact that the guacamole was not only homemade, but also chunky. A pet peeve of mine is guacamole that has been processed to the point where it looks like green spackling. There were nice large pieces of avocado and an even nicer surprise, finely minced jalapeno peppers. Each bite was chunky, creamy, and just a little bit spicy. Not to forget the corn tortillas that I had ordered as a side, I ate these throughout the meal and thought that they were outstanding. They had a lovely soft texture, like a flour tortilla, but definitely had a non-greasy corn flavor that worked well with the other flavors on my plate.
I had gone into Molly Brown's today expecting that it was going to be similar to a southern style diner. However, what I walked away with today was not only the introduction of a dish I had never even heard of, but that was also delicious and filling. To my earlier point of small portion sizes or an expensive menu, the person who posted that must be delusional as the portions were quite large and most of the menu items were between $4 and $8. In fact, my meal, including a cup of coffee came to a little over $9 with tax. Is it as cheap as McDonald's? Of course not. But it is also 300% better than McDonald's, too.
I highly recommend you check out Molly Brown's Country Cafe. For the traditionalist in your group there are plenty of the old stand-by items that will be sure to please. For the adventurous in your group, there are those wonderful Mexican breakfast specialties that you can get nowhere else in Akron. Heck, maybe even in Cleveland, too.