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Menches wall art
This photograph shows the Menches Brothers tent at the 1885 Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York.
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A Menches Burger with all the trimmings.
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The sign says, "Inventor of the hamburger".
It just wouldn't be right to end "Burger Week" on this blog without taking a bite out of a Menches Brothers sandwich. For one thing (and I mentioned this is controversial in the first entry last week), Akron and Hamburg, New York, both believe Charles and Frank Menches were the first to put a ground beef patty on a roll. This happened in 1885 at the Erie County fair near Buffalo, reportedly when the the brothers ran out of sausage and were unable to get more.
Another reason is that the current Menches Brothers burger finished as runner-up in the "traditional" category at the National Hamburger Festival this past weekend to a sandwich from Eat'nPark. Now I happen to like Eat'nPark just fine, especially for breakfast, but c'mon...it's a big chain of restaurants. Surely the locals should be judged among their peers. And frankly, having eaten burgers at both places, there is no way the Menches burger loses.
I also happen to like the Green location. At one time, it was kind of small and diner-ish, but after the Burkhart Brewing Company moved out, the Menches people took over the space, completely redecorated all the areas, and made it into a very comfortable neighborhood grille. The menu is extensive with dozens of sandwiches, salads and burgers. Larger meals are heavy on the Italian emphasis, and there is a nice range of pizzas. In addition to "inventing" the hamburger, the Menches family also takes credit for inventing the ice cream cone (the sugar wafer type) and caramel-coated peanuts and popcorn.
Back to burgers for a minute. When the brothers had to switch from pork sausage to ground beef, they thought the end product didn't have the zip they were looking for. So they experimented with additions to the beef mixture, including spices, sugar and coffee in various proportions. You may have noticed some of the other hamburger restaurants in the the Akron area still mix their beef with similar things. I would say that the Menches version, if it still includes any of these, goes a lot easier on them than some of the others. Their beef patty is seasoned, to be sure, but I don't think it goes overboard or covers up the flavor of the meat.
Every burger is served with complimentary fries, and there is a wide range of toppings and "fixins" available to add. There is also a second Menches Brothers location in Massillon, although the location that used to be in the Canal Park ballpark has been taken over by Wing Warehouse. Here's a link to the Menches Brothers Restaurants web site if you'd like to see a menu or learn more history: