Monday, March 22, 2010

Did Menches Brothers Invent The Hamburger?

I found out earlier this week that I would be finishing up my work for a client in Uniontown, Ohio and decided that as my last lunch while working there, I would check out one of the contenders who stakes a claim of ownership for inventing the hamburger. I speak, of course, of Menches Brothers. Interestingly, several others make this claim as well, and as far as I am concerned, no one has put forward enough evidence to convince me who the true inventor really is.

That being said, if you claim to have invented it, your version better be pretty darn good. While there were once several Menches Brothers restaurants throughout northeast Ohio, as far as I am aware, there are now only two, one in Uniontown and one in Massillon. The one I went to today for lunch is located at 3700 Massillon Road, Uniontown, Ohio 44685 and can be reached at 330-896-2288.

Both restaurants, oddly enough, are located in strip retail outlets. Here was a shot of the front of the restaurant:

And here was a shot of the sign just outside the front door which makes Menches Brothers' claim to fame:

Once inside, the hostess led me to a table in the bar area and left me with a menu:

While it was nice to see the other menu offerings, I knew I was here for one thing and one thing only, the hamburger. I found out two surprising facts. First, even though the menu listed the burgers coming with potato chips by default, apparently today they came with the French fries instead. Perhaps it was a lunch special; I failed to ask. Second was that all the burgers are cooked, as my server put it, "safe done." I decided on the cheeseburger with optional strips of bacon for an extra $0.50.

After about fifteen minutes or so, my cheeseburger platter arrived:

Here was a close-up of the burger itself:

After adding a little ketchup and yellow mustard, I assembled the sandwich and took as large as a bite as I could. The tomato, being fairly good for a winter tomato, acted as the single point of failure per usual and half of my burger slid out of the bun. With the ingredients now rectified, I took another, more satisfying bite. The burger was indeed cooked all the way through. Fortunately, there was still enough juice left in the meat that it was a pleasant experience. The bacon was still warm and nicely crisped and the bun was nicely toasted. All in all I'd say that this was a fairly tasty burger. I'd put it on par with some of the better burgers I've had, like at Jerry's Cafe in Orrville. However, it didn't reach top-tier burger status like the versions I've had at the Greenhouse Tavern or B Spot.

Here was a close-up of the accompanying French fries:

The fries were nicely cooked, crispy on the outside and hot and creamy on the inside. They had a "fresh cut" look to them, but certainly didn't taste that way. Both the fries and the burger were seasoned well and no additional salt was required. This wasn't my favorite French fried potato, but it was a decent enough version that I wouldn't mind paying the normal $1.99 upgrade fee instead of the potato chips that normally come with the burgers.

Actually, the only real complaint I had about today's experience was that the service felt a little off. I went after the peak lunchtime hour and sat for quite a bit in a not-very-crowded bar area. It took the server about ten minutes to realize that I was there and when she did come over to take my order, she seemed to be very rushed. The rest of my service was alright, so I'll just chalk it up to a bad beginning.

Whomever can ultimately prove to be the progenitor of the common hamburger, Menches Brothers can at the minimum claim that they have a darn tasty version. The meal was nicely seasoned and cooked and priced just right at $6.49. If you are looking for a good example of a hamburger, I suggest you give either the Uniontown or Massillon location a try to satisfy your own craving.

Menches Brothers Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Dine O Mite said...

I tried to go a couple of weeks ago while in New Haven, but they're closed on Mondays. Oh well, next time.

Tino said...

For those wondering what @Dine O Mite is alluding to, Louis' Lunch out of New Haven, CT also claims to have invented the hamburger. In fact, to the best of my knowledge there are about 3 or 4 restaurants that have made this claim.

The point of my article wasn't so much to explore who was the actual creator, but to review the version at Menches Brothers. The "Who Invented It" aspect was thrown in just for a little color.

Bob Sisler said...

There is also another Menches Brothers location, at Canal Park in Akron. I have gone there on a number of occasions prior to Aeros games. You get a great view of the field from the restaurant, and can enjoy watching the teams warm up as you have diner. I would agree with your assessment – the burgers are above average, but not the absolute best I’ve ever had.

Mahala said...

I still crave a Greek seasoned burger that I used to get in my hometown of Toledo. It was ground steak with fresh garlic, oregano and other "secret" seasonings known only to the owner. It was served medium, and was the juiciest, most delicious burger that has ever graced my lips. I still crave it, have tried to duplicate it, and have never found its equal. It will live in memory only as the restaurant closed long ago. Why are the best foods those that we can no longer get?

Nancy Heller said...

If they have to cook every burger to "safe" - they must not have a lot of confidence in their meat supplier.

TQ Writer said...

i've been wanting to try this burger for a while. on par w/ a swenson's?

Tino said...

@TQ Writer: It was a good burger. But I don't think I would crave it occasionally like I do the Galley Boy.

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