As a rule, malls aren’t places where you expect to find fresh fare. There’s popcorn, pizza, ice cream, oversized cookies, cinnamon buns and all manner of fast food. If you see a salad, it might be a mirage.
An exception is Stone’s Farm Fresh, which opened last month at Shoppingtown Mall, 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. The café — a quick-serve counter where you can see your food being prepared — was launched by entrepreneur April Stone to spotlight the all-natural, black Angus beef she raises at her Green Acres Beef farm in Marathon.
Taking the lead in the kitchen is chef and caterer Steve Landon, of Skaneateles, whose passion is seasonal, local and healthy food. Landon’s list of restaurant credits includes stints at Mirbeau Inn & Spa, Vernak Farms and Asti, in Syracuse, among others.
Together, Landon and Stone have created a menu that focuses on beef, but doesn’t ignore people who don’t eat it. There are several soups each day, including Green Acres beef barley soup and broccoli cheddar soup, as well as a hearty beef-centric chili with no beans.
There’s a Caesar salad with house-made dressing, a roasted beet salad with apples, goat cheese, bacon (optional) and horseradish vinaigrette and a chopped salad to which you can add protein, if you like. Landon says his garden vegetable wrap with hummus is selling well, along with the slow-roasted beef and barbecue beef sandwiches.
The star of the menu is gourmet burgers, which range from basic to dressed up, like the BLT burger (beef, lettuce and tomato), Breakfast Burger (topped with bacon, egg, cheese and spicy aioli) and the Blue Blitz (with bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions). Burgers are available in two sizes, five ounces and eight ounces, and served on brioche rolls with a choice of house-made fries or chips.
Three-course meals, with your choice of meat, potatoes and vegetables, are offered each day for $13.75. Phone orders are welcome, everything is available to go and there is ample seating in the food court.
“I think we add a little uniqueness to the mall,’’ Landon says, pointing out that Creole Soul, a downtown restaurant, is opening an eatery next door.
“We’ve had a great response from people so far,’’ Stone says.
It’s no secret that Shoppingtown is a ghost of its former thriving self, losing large anchor stores like J.C. Penney and Macy’s, as well as smaller, locally owned businesses. There are more than a few empty storefronts.
Still, the mall draws library visitors and moviegoers, as well as shoppers and families who frequent the play area near the food court, Landon says. And there are office buildings and office parks nearby to bring in lunch business and after-work takeouts, for those who want to get a bite to go. For those who walk the mall in the morning, Stone’s Farm Fresh has coffee, homemade muffins and other baked goods.
Stone’s Farm Fresh aims to increase its visibility in the community by participating in events like the recent Savor Syracuse fundraiser for the Food Bank of Central New York, and Central New York’s favorite food festival, Taste of Syracuse, coming up in June.
Stone’s Farm Fresh is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 802-7989 or visit stonesfarmfresh.com. For information on Green Acres Beef, call 424-2504 or visit greenacresbeefny.com.