Comfort Food with a Scratch and a Twist
By Shweta Karikehalli | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
When diners enter The Cider Mill, they’re met with an atmosphere that’s homey and welcoming, yet elegant and upscale. Its location at 4221 Fay Road had served as home base for Diamond Catering in years past, but Dan Seeley, co-owner of The Cider Mill and Diamond Catering, had bigger aspirations.
“When we weren’t catering, the building really just sat idle,” he said. “We wanted to generate revenue, and also add something new to the area since there isn’t a lot on this side of town.”
The building has a rich history. The space originally operated decades ago as Morey’s Mill, a quaint red building that was a popular spot for cider, doughnuts and American comfort cuisine.
Though The Cider Mill officially opened in November 2014, the establishment got off to a rocky start. Operations came to a halt in March 2015 when heavy ice caused part of the roof to collapse. But The Cider Mill crew didn’t let destruction dishearten them. Instead, they viewed it as an opportunity for renewal and growth.
With a newly-red exterior, repurposed materials and memorabilia from Morey’s featured throughout the restaurant, The Cider Mill pays tribute to its predecessor.
“Our bar is crafted out of 100-year-old cypress that used to be used on-site for cider barrels,” Dan explained. “We are also using the original cider press plates for decor inside.” Since reopening in early January with plans for year-round service, the team has added a bar to its offerings.
The bar boasts extensive beer and wine lists. The staff even takes suggestions from customers on drinks they’d like to see on the menu.
“If regulars are coming in and asking for a certain drink, and if we can get it for them, then we absolutely will,” general manager John Neville said. “We feature a lot of beers that are rare around here.”
John mentioned Founders Brewing’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Devil Dancer, as well as Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon Ale.
The Cider Mill’s menu offers a variety of dishes, ranging from classics like burgers and steaks to Thai and Italian cuisine. Pictured below is the seared salmon, accompanied by roasted potatoes, asparagus and whole grain mustard sauce.
Though the menu’s style varies from plate to plate, each dinner has one thing in common: its preparation.
“The emphasis is on scratch food,” Dan said. “We bring in whole primal cuts. We roast our own bones for stock. And we use very little out of a can or box.”
Dan explained they call the food “modern American upscale comfort food” because the kitchen puts their own twist on everything they do. But above all, everything is fresh, he said, remarking that customers appreciate that special touch.
Both Dan and John agree the success of the restaurant is thanks to the expertise and cohesive nature of their crew.
“We’ve assembled quite an all-star team,” Dan said. “Everyone in the kitchen has gone to culinary school and the service staff has come to us from many of the finer restaurants around Syracuse, so they are all very experienced servers.”
As for the future of The Cider Mill, Dan is thinking big, including an expansion of the building to add seating.
“We are talking about doing a variation of a food truck that can cover both Diamond Catering and Cider Mill, and we haven’t ruled out another location,” he said. “I’m looking forward to what’s to come for The Cider Mill.” SWM
The Cider Mill is located at 4221 Fay Road in Syracuse. For menus, hours and more information, visit thecidermill.us.