PEORIA — I want to like the CoreLife Eatery, the new chain entry near the entrance of Glen Hollow Shopping Center.
The place revels in health. From the moment you enter, you realize you’re not standing before the menu of some greasy spoon or simple sandwich maker.
Instead there are references to shredded kale, quinoa and shiitake mushrooms.
Ordering at CoreLife is not as simple as just ordering a number five or the special of the day. There are three main food groups here: green (salad), grain and broth.
Once you check that box, it’s on to what size you want: small bowl ($6.95), big bowl ($8.95) or bigger bowl ($10.95).
Now that you’ve decided on a size, you really have to make decisions. Each of the categories has a half-dozen or more of specific menu offerings.
For example, the green bowl offerings include dishes such as steak, bacon and blue cheese. On the grain side, a host of possibilities include spicy chicken and ancient grains.
Broth entries include chicken and rice noodle as well as tomato and basil soup.
You can create your own bowl if you’re really feeling adventurous. But be careful. While you’re allowed up to four basic ingredients from the vast CoreLife lineup of veggies, extra veggies are 45 cents each while cheese add-ons cost an additional $1.25 apiece.
A small green bowl that starts at $4.95 can cost over $8 with the addition of just a couple of premium items.
When we dropped by for dinner recently, I went with a small chicken and grain bowl ($6.45) plus lemonade ($2.95) while my dining companion opted for a small ginger steak and noodle broth bowl ($6.95) and lemonade.
You dine in a large, airy dining room with both tables and booths. We should note that the lemonade is especially good here. It’s fresh and comes in a variety of flavors. My favorite is the beet lemonade, because it’s sweet. Other versions include things like basil and cucumbers, which sounds odd but they work well. There’s also iced tea and coffee.
Unfortunately, the meal wasn’t as tasty as the lemonade. My bowl was nourishing but a trifle bland despite the presence of kale, quinoa, broccoli and scallions. My partner reported that the beef broth came off as watery, requiring an additional dose of sriracha sauce to give it a little flavor.
It’s nice that CoreLife is on this healthy kick with carrot juice, cashew butter and all the rest of it. I like the fact that they track the calories in everything. But the whole ordering thing is a little off-putting.
First-timers are frantically poring over menus to try to figure out if they want green or grain or why shredded kale seems to be in everything. Then the friendly folks behind the counter might ask if you want the lime cilantro jalapeno vinaigrette, when I’m not even sure I know what that is.
While I’m being picky, I don’t like the name of the restaurant, either. CoreLife? It sounds like a vitamin franchise.
Whatever you call it, a chain that offers healthy food needs to be given some credit. But it’s also a place that needs to streamline the ordering process as well as adding a nice chili to the menu.
Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter@SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.