Not long ago I ran into a guy with a big frame and a big appetite, who loves food of all kinds, especially steaks. A longtime Toledoan, he confessed almost sheepishly that in all his years here he had never set foot in Mancy's Steakhouse. Why? He didn't quite know - just never got around to it.
Well, since that conversation, he has gone to Mancy's three or four times, and it's now one of his regular stops. Why? Apparently, he saw the evangelical light. "The steaks are fantastic," he said.
Over the years, thousands of people have found this to be true. Metropolitan Toledo has lots of good steakhouses, but Mancy's holds the blue ribbon. I've been going there for the better part of 40 years and have yet to be served a bad steak or one that wasn't cooked precisely as ordered. That includes aged filet mignons, T-bones, roasted ribeyes, 24-ounce porterhouses, and New York strips, the restaurant's most popular cut.
But steaks alone don't draw customers. Also on the menu,
in addition to a lengthy wine list, are pork chops, succulent lamb chops, shrimp, swordfish, whitefish, huge lobster tails with drawn butter, and expensive Alaskan king crab legs, all vying to satisfy appetites with or without steak as a plate companion.
The restaurant itself is a small museum of eye-catching antiques and architectural touches, including beveled and leaded glass of all descriptions and a grand staircase, that create an almost baroque gallery, accompanied by soothing pop and jazz standards piped into the cozy dining rooms.
These walls do talk, showing the history of the Mancy family in photographs dating back to 1921, when the late Gus Mancy and his partner first opened for business as the Ideal Restaurant in the very same location on Phillips Avenue in West Toledo. Gus' twin sons, John and George Mancy, elevated the place to a first-class steakhouse, and today the twins' offspring - Gus, Mike, John, George, and Nick Mancy - have expanded the empire to include Mancy's Italian and shorty's bar-b-cue.
At the steakhouse, you can finish Mancy's steaks with Cajun spice, cracked peppercorn, or fresh garlic. And like all entrees, they come served with a house salad, warm home-baked bread, and a choice of potato, rice, or fresh vegetables.
For a change, I tried the 16-ounce ribeye steak ($19.95), perfectly cooked and tender, served with a bloom of broccoli and a man-sized steak knife. On balance, however, I prefer the firmer, thicker, more satisfying New York center strip. It costs $20.95 for the 14-ounce cut and $25.95 for the 18-ounce - both trimmed of the flank, which is served as a luncheon steak with all the fixings for only $8.95.
On a recent evening, we ordered the popular French onion soup ($3.50 a cup, $4.75 a bowl), which can be a meal unto itself, bubbling with thick cheese and onions. An appetizer of wild mushrooms in port wine on toasted crostini, followed by the house salad piled high with wedge tomatoes, thick cucumber slices, croutons, and cheese, further threatened to fill us up before the entrees arrived.
But the steaks proved irresistible, along with hollandaise-draped swordfish ($20.95) and a juicy slab of dijon chicken ($14.95).
Later, a lunchtime platter of meltingly good beef stroganoff ($8.95) overcame the one quibble encountered during two visits: a cup of New England clam chowder with too much flour in the mix - all in all, a negligible flaw for a decidedly all-star restaurant.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org