This Syracuse restaurant is changing the culinary scene; one fresh, eco-friendly ingredient at a time.
The wood-fired oven glows orange and warm, crackling and popping over slow jazz music circulating the room – knives drum against cutting boards, chopping bundles of fresh herbs and aromatics. Sharp butcher blades delicately slice into slabs of meat. This is the scene at Eden Restaurant in downtown Syracuse, NY, right before the doors open for the dinner rush.
Eden opened only a couple of years ago in 2019 and has revolutionized the Syracuse culinary scene in its short life. Specializing in wood-fired cooking using only locally-sourced ingredients from the Central New York area, Eden is a haven for sustainable, gourmet cooking. Its mission is to “highlight the best produce, farmers, brewers, distillers, and foragers in New York State.”
Because of its dedication to local farms and sustainability, the restaurant’s menu constantly varies with the seasons and what fresh ingredients are available. It’s a true farm-to-table dining experience like no other in the area.
The current fall menu includes appetizers like grilled halloumi with peppery arugula, spaghetti squash, and cauliflower ($14) or umami mushroom toast topped with a delicately poached egg ($16.) Diners can enjoy pan-roasted chicken ($28) or seared halibut ($32) for their entree while washing it down with Eden’s impressive array of wine.
When it comes to the dishes, Head Chef and partner, Rich Strub believes creative simplicity is key.
“It all goes back to style and being creative with the products you have,” says Strub. “We just buy the ingredients and don’t do too much to them. We’re not trying to manipulate things or turn them into something they’re not.”
Strub has always had a passion for eco-friendly cuisine. He gained his culinary knowledge working on a sustainable farm, harvesting whatever produce was in season. He used the ingredients he farmed each day as the inspiration for dinner that night. It was all about what he could create with what he had access to.
Once he moved to Syracuse to pursue cooking, Strub found suitability was underutilized and underappreciated. He wanted to change that, and thus the idea for Eden blossomed.
Before the rustic wood and metal detail restaurant opened, Strub’s kitchen was merely a wood-fired oven which he and his father built into a trailer. Over the next six months, he used this makeshift kitchen to test recipes, honing his culinary skills.
Today, Strub’s dream is a reality. Eden sources from over 30 Central New York farms. Some of its partners include: Gray Barn Farm in Tully, and Bach Farm in Mohawk. All the produce and meat are raised naturally with no pesticides and hormones.
Many prominent food vendors produce monoculture ingredients drenched in chemicals that are detrimental to humans and the environment. “If you went to a large distributor, they won’t be fresh, so you won’t get the flavor you want,” said Strub. Sourcing locally from eco-conscious, family-owned farms ensures the highest quality ingredients. Eden has a complete list of its partners on its website.
The agricultural industry has contributed to climate change through the neglectful treatment of land and wasteful production processes. Eden is an example of environmental progression within Syracuse’s restaurant industry, leading the conversation in sustainable food practices and supporting other businesses doing the same.
“It’s all about heart because we use the heart of New York. If we’re going to feed people, we’re going to do it in a really thoughtful way,” Strub says.