Imagine a Chipotle Grill or Panera Bread for healthy eaters and you get the idea about what a visit to CoreLife in Clarence will be like.
Patrons start their culinary journey with ceramic bowls and a base of greens, grains or a soup. Then the staff will dabble on a protein – if you wish – and any number of fresh extras before you get to the cashier.
The average cost will run between $5.95 and $11.
You also can order a healthy beverage – there are no sodas here – for another $3 or so.
Three of us stopped by for dinner on Sunday and ordered three of the most popular bowls, as well as a scratch-made soup.
We all were impressed with the fresh ingredients and taste profiles.
"Coming into our store, you can't buy an unhealthy meal. There's no temptation that will cause you to make a mistake in how you eat," co-owner Todd Mansfield said.
TOP SELLER: Southwest Chicken & Wild Rice
The bowls can be deceiving by the end of the line because many of the goodies are tucked toward the bottom. This dish starts with a bed of warm wild rice or quinoa, then free-range, antibiotic-free chicken.
Chopped romaine, avocado, jalapenos, tortilla strips, tomatoes, black beans, scallions, corn and shredded white cheddar round out the ingredients, along with a recommended lime cilantro vinaigrette dressing. The small-size bowl disappeared quickly.
The calorie damage: Full size runs 840 – with no preservatives, additives or GMOs, as is the case with every dish on the menu.
GIVE ME BEEF: Steak, Bacon & Bleu Cheese
Meat lovers can find solace in this space with this dish, the second most-popular in the 15-store CoreLife chain. Grass-fed steak and bacon mix with chopped Romaine and mesclun greens.
Cranberries, tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese (along with the bleu) are encouraged, as are chopped walnuts. We stuck with the recommended cranberry vinaigrette dressing. Solid choice.
The calorie damage: 700.
EUROPEAN FLAIR: Mediterranean
Starts with shredded kale, chopped romaine and house-made hummus. Topped with falafel, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese and red onion. Finished with a cucumber basil dressing.
Calorie watcher's dream: 550 calories.
SOUP WITH A SPLASH: Spicy Ginger Steak & Rice Noodle
Starts with grass-fed steak and rice noodles. Freshly shredded kale, broccoli pieces, carrot slivers and sliced almonds add to the substance. Ginger, cilantro and sriracha make you want more. This soup disappeared quickly, and was the biggest hit.
The calorie damage: This substantial soup touts 540 calories and is fit for a meal.
BEVERAGES: Teas and lemonades are the rage here
Forget the soda. We had beet lemonade – the subtle beet taste lightens the lemony tartness – fruit punch and a Bai coconut drink. All were satisfyingly different.
CoreLife – at 5175 Transit Road in the Walmart Plaza – opened over the weekend after a special fundraising "Pay-what-you-choose" day last Thursday, which raised $9,600 for the Buffalo City Mission.
You can enter the parking lot from both Transit Road and the safety of the parking lot inside the plaza.
The restaurant takes up the bulk of a new building that will soon include another new arrival to the Western New York hospitality scene: Neat – Wood. Whiskey.Wine.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon