I recently changed from a Windows laptop to a MacBook Pro for my main laptop. I have always been familiar with OS X because others in the office use it and I test Swing applications on OS X for customers.
I am a NeXT guy, since 1990. There are a lot of things in OS X that infuriate me, not when compared to Windows, but to NeXTSTEP. The solution to your issue already exists but is locked up in OS X --- tear-off menus. The NeXT GUI allowed one to move the main menu of an app and to tear off, move, and keep persistent any sub-menu. One could then keep the frequently used menus in their handiest place without having to burrow through the menu tree every time you use it. In the move from OS 9 to OS X, Apple "dumbed down" the NeXT GUI to please the OS 9 users. Infuriating. However, as far as I know, tear-off menus are still possible in OS X, requiring a simple "unlocking" of the behavior. There is an app that partially does this, OCSmart Hacks (http://www.ocs.cz/OCSmartHacks/) . It may be what you need.
As to the path issue. I gather that you want to get the path as a text string in the pasteboard. An easy way to do this is just drag the directory's Finder icon into almost any text field. I've done it right here: /Applications/Aperture.app . Hitting cmd-c on a folder selected in Finder gives the folder name, but not the path.
Hope this helps.
Lee Altenberg said: "the application window" --- that's the issue. The GUIs descend from the time when there was one application window. But what do you do when there are multiple windows per application? Duplicate the top menu in each of them? Or put all an application's windows inside an enclosing window that has the top menu? Both of these have been tried, but they are clunky.