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Modern Malt

A Classic Diner with a Modern Twist

What do you get when you combine classic and modern, diner eats and haute cuisine, crafted cocktails with malted milkshakes, decadently delicious burgers, poutine and milk shakes with salmon salad, and a turkey burger on a gluten-free bun in a chrome and “order up” diner atmosphere that’s filled with bright and beautiful color?

Answer: one of the most friendly and flavorful dining experiences possible for all ages and styles.

Modern Malt prides itself on being family friendly. But that doesn’t mean mom, dad, teens and young adults aren’t going to be right where they want to be, too. It’s not easy for a restaurant to be a “something for everyone” place, but Modern Malt has hit the sweet spot, from offering comfortable tables for ten (or more), to specializing in artisanal cocktails (including a range of Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa flights for your sampling pleasure), to a menu that has not just “something” but “something delicious” for every age and taste.

Established in 2014 in its Clinton Street location, owners and partners Robb Bidwell and Douglas Balle confronted the problem of “family meal at a restaurant, especially in downtown Syracuse.” If you aim just at kids, the adults will grin and bear it, while the kids chomp on chicken tenders and mac ‘n’ cheese and maybe romp in a play area. If it’s the candle-lit ambiance of a fine dining establishment, the adults can try to enjoy an evening of delicate palate-pleasers and fine cocktails, but the kids are bound to be bored and are notoriously picky eaters. And somewhere in the middle, the teens and young adults might be looking for a late Sunday brunch, or a really great burger, or even a vegan alternative. “Let’s give them all something to love,” was the “concept” of Modern Malt.

And by all accounts, they’ve succeeded. I looked over the menu, and was immediately stopped by the “Barney Rubble.” I knew two kids who would love nothing better than Fruity Pebble Crusted French Toast – and dad would appreciate the Strawberry-Ginger Jam and Crème Anglaise garnish. Later in the day, the kids can dig into a grilled cheese sandwich, and if they’re very good, an Oreo Cookie shake, while the adults might favor a Lobster Grilled Cheese, with Cheddar, brie, lobster, cream cheese, and egg bread. In fact, the menu itself gives you a clue to the main ingredient in Modern Malt: class with a hint a humor and fun. “Bluto,” “Angry Bird” and “Canadian Gold” all have a little fun with a recipe that is part grandma, part gourmet, 100% good.

It would be easy to wax lyrical about the menu, as it offers such a creative variety. But the Modern Malt team are equally proud of the ambiance. It’s American diner – a unique blend of hearty, plenty, and friendly – and colorful. “Think of Howard Johnson’s,” said Robb. “Those are the colors – mid-twentieth century modern.” And indeed, the feel is fun, colorful, and at the same time, classic.

The Cicero location was established just as the pandemic hit, but opened in September, with about twice the seating of the downtown location, with easy parking and a convenient suburban setting.

Diners are invited to review their meals, and can join the VIP club, with the benefits of posting their reviews to the website, special offers and VIP only menu offerings. If you take a photo of your meal and post it to Instagram, it can be displayed right on the in-store displays.

The Syracuse location offers catering for large or intimate events, and also offers pickup orders to go.

“Our aim is to take this concept and keep exploring it and taking it as far as it can go,” said Robb. “We’ve expanded from our Syracuse location to Cicero, and now that that location is open and operating, we want see what’s next. We watch food trends, look for ways to expand the menu and still stay with the classic American diner theme.”



325 Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY 13202

Monday: 9am – 5pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Friday: 9am – 4pm Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 4pm


7785 Frontage Road Suite C
Cicero, NY 13039

Monday – Tuesday: Closed Wednesday – Sunday: 9am – 9pm

Nancy Roberts