Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Old Time Toledo Dining

Ask anyone in Toledo what the longest running locally owned and operated restaurant is and you will get a myriad of answers. Ask someone what the oldest full service restaurant in Toledo is that is 1) still open for business 2)still owned by the same family and 3) in the same location as where it started - and the list dwindles down to three.

"The Toledo Trio", as I like to call them:

Mancy's Steakhouse - 1921
953 Phillips Avenue
Toledo, OH
(419) 476-4154‎

Inky's Italian - 1957
3945 North Detroit Avenue
Toledo, Ohio 43612
(419) 476-0500

The Seafood - circa 1958
5504 Alexis Road
Sylvania, Ohio

When I decided to check out these Toledo landmarks, I found out very quickly that the only thing these restaurants have in common is longevity. Mancy's is rated by Esquire magazine as "one of the top 40 steakhouses in America." Inky's is an old fashioned neighborhood Italian restaurant and The Seafood specializes in deep fried Lake Erie yellow perch, pickerel (a.k.a walleye) and battered and deep fried onion rings.

If you are looking for a place to impress out-of-town guests, a date, your parents, a client or anyone else for that matter - go to Mancy's. It's the kind of place where men can be men and women are treated like ladies. The service is always impeccable.

The steaks are "premium grade corn feed Midwestern beef that is aged and hand butchered on premise and charbroiled at temperatures exceeding 1200 degrees." You simply can't do anything this good at home.

It's easy to pair a Mancy's steak with a glass, carafe or bottle of wine from one of the most comprehensive wine lists in the city. Mancy's Steaks and seafood entrees are all served with a house salad that is presented on a chilled pewter plate. It's a nice touch from a more genteel time. Although, I wish they'd bring back "Green Goddess" dressing. Seriously. I double-dog-dare you to ask Mike Mancy when they plan to "go green" and put Green Goddess dressing back on the menu...That's right. Ask him. And when he doesn't laugh at that lame joke, you can tell him you're just part of a Glass City Gourmet caper to bring back the Green Goddess!

All dinners at Mancy's come with home made bread and a choice of a 1 lb. baked potato, hand cut fries, hash browns (I typically order them well done with onions), wild rice pilaf, boiled redskins or vegetables. You can also order classic steak house favorites such as an iceberg wedge salad, steamed asparagus or broccoli served with Hollandaise sauce, and sautéed spinach with wild mushrooms. If you grew up in Toledo and haven't been to Mancy's since your grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary or a company holiday party...go back. It's worth the splurge and so are you.

Mancy's is a tough act to follow.

It took thirty plus years for another restaurant to open with staying power. Enter Inky's. There is something charming about the original neon sign above the door, the white trellises, the leather booths, and the old straw wrapped Chianti bottles that decorate the restaurant. There is something quaint about the waitresses who've worked there for years and will steer you to the house favorites. There is something very 1950's about an Italian menu that features: pizza, lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, spaghetti and meat balls, house made ravioli, etc. With the exception of the pizza, everything is covered in ladles of Inky's famous homemade tomato sauce. If your kids won't eat here, they don't deserve to go out to eat! The prices are family friendly and the dining room is brightly lit so you won't miss anything. This is not a place for romance, but it sure is fun. Grab a crowd and order enough for the table to eat "family style". You won't have to worry about getting enough food for the whole soccer team or cleaning all those dirty dishes.

The third restaurant in this "triad of timelessness" is The Seafood. It is located in an old house that was converted to a full service restaurant in Sylvania. If fried food is comfort food for you, this is your home away from home. The restaurant is moderately priced and a great place to take your parents if they like a stiff drink and a plate of locally caught and fried fish. The onion rings are a house special and come in a high stack. All meals are served with bread and house salads. The ambiance is pleasant, but not memorable. The Seafood is a safe place to take family members who use "different" as an adjective to describe anything that wasn't a part of their early childhood.

As Toledo continues to suffer the pains of a downward economy please find the time and a little bit of cash to support locally owned restaurants. We owe it to our community to keep them around for the next generation.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

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