CoreLife Eatery, the healthy fast casual restaurant spot that has been highly anticipated by Cornell students and other members of the Ithaca community, finally opens to the public on Friday. With so much excitement and hype surrounding its opening, I could not wait for the opportunity to try one of their carefully curated green, grain, or broth bowls during their preview days this week.
I enjoyed my experience from the time I walked through the door up until the moment I left. Since it was opening week, there were many CoreLife Eatery representatives and team members on standby to answer any questions I had about the menu, beverages and order process. I even got the chance to speak with one of the founders of CoreLife Eatery, Todd Mansfield, who describes the concept as “a fast casual restaurant that offers scratch-made dressings, falafel, hummus, homemade beef and chicken bone broth.”
All employees were extremely helpful, making the ordering process, which felt slightly overwhelming and daunting upon first glance, approachable and easy. I didn’t feel rushed at all as I made my way through the line and debated what to add to my shiitake mushroom and roasted tofu broth bowl, which consisted of a vegetable broth, shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, shredded kale, roasted tofu, sprouts, ginger, lemongrass and sliced almonds. This specific broth bowl is one of the six soup options they offer, ranging from grilled chicken tortilla to tomato and basil. Many of the bowls have been curated by Scott Davis, one of the other founders of CoreLife, who spent 20 years at Panera Bread as their Chief Concept Officer. However, if none of the broth bowl combinations offered catch your eye, you are encouraged to created your own by simply adding a broth (vegetable, beef or chicken) to any combination of vegetables, grains and proteins you choose.
After a long deliberation, I decided to add quinoa to my broth bowl and to get an extra scoop of tofu, turning my bowl from a “big bowl” with full protein into a “big bowl” with double protein. As I made my way down the assembly line, stationed employees confirmed that I wanted the standard ingredients that make up the shiitake and tofu bowl. While I decided upon ordering a broth bowl, you can also have the same toppings, but with a salad or grain base; the options are endless.
After adding all my desired components into the bowl, I watched the next team member in line steam the raw vegetables before adding the vegetable broth. The steaming machine they have is definitely an attraction unique to the restaurant. It allows employees to cook quickly any raw vegetables they have on the line, so my meal was made fresh and right in front of my eyes. The friend I was with took advantage of this option and turned her personally curated salad into a mixture of steamed vegetables.
After making my way past the steamer, I was offered a piece of bread (the only item at the eatery containing gluten) prior to checking out. I was then faced with multiple options of handcrafted beverages including beet lemonade, tropical green tea, blueberry mint lemonade, cold brew coffee and ceylon black tea. A few of the offerings, such as the blueberry lemonade, will be changed seasonally. The nearby team member encouraged me to try as many as I’d like before choosing (which was amazing!). In the mood for something light and refreshing, I got the ceylon black tea, and I helped myself to a refill on my way out. I will definitely be returning to CoreLife Eatery, and I think it is a great addition to Ithaca. The prices were completely reasonable, less than what one would pay for a salad at Mac’s, an important factor for college students. Additionally, it fills a unique void by offering food that is fast, healthy and delicious.
Serves: grain bowls, green bowls, broth bowls, handcrafted beverages
Vibe: fast casual