When you’re at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus and have time to spare between classes, and you’re just not feeling Lu’s or Nina’s Cafe for lunch, the food court at Water Tower Place can come to the rescue.
For most college students, the idea of food-court cuisine probably includes Auntie Anne’s Pretzels or Subway. Yet on Michigan Avenue, you get fine dining with healthier options. Located on the mezzanine level of Water Tower Place, you can find M Burger, Foodlife, Sacred Grounds Bakery & Cafe, Mity Nice and Foodease. I decided to go to Foodease – (a restaurant-style market with a large variety of foods where you pay by the weight) – for lunch one Tuesday.
The interesting thing about Foodease is that the food comes from an array of different restaurants that are owned by the Lettuce Entertain You corporation. Some of these include Hub 51, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! and Big Bowl.
As part of the Lettuce Entertain You corporation, Foodease also follows the mission of serving the best food quality possible. Their hot entrees are prepared in small quantities to make sure customers taste only the freshest and highest quality food possible. They want you to feel good about the food you consume and they care about where your food comes from: They buy from Midwestern farmers and retailers.
Foodease includes three different food stations to choose from: a sushi bar, soup center and sandwich stand. Located closer to the cashiers are shelves that hold colorfully packaged snacks including handmade chocolates and dried fruits, a make-your-own trail mix station and a case of gluten- and dairy-free bakery items. If you are in a hurry and in need of a grab-and-go snack, refrigerated and frozen items such as pre-made sandwiches, hummus, vegetables, fruit, pasta dishes and ice cream are also available.
At the front of the market, there is a wine bar with a short menu of cheeses, meats and bar snacks. Toward the right-hand side of the space is a hidden wine shop, which sells more than 250 bottles of organic wines, many under $20 per bottle. Foodease offers wine events, such as one this past February called “Stock Your Cellar,” in which 60 different wines were being sold for half the price. In addition, cheese and chocolates were provided at the event as complimentary tastings.
On my most recent trip to Foodease for lunch, I decided to make my own mismatched meal from the buffet-style stations. My plate ended up consisting of some roasted sweet potato wedges, butternut squash, marinated beets, sliced chicken and a kale quinoa salad.
The sweet potatoes were perfectly cooked and tender, while the vegetables had just the right amount of seasoning and oil. The great thing about this meal was that it tasted just as fresh as a home-cooked meal from my mom. The price came to $10.25, which seemed like a bit much at the time, but it was quite filling. Each plate of food is weighed to determine the price — the heavier it is, the pricier your meal. So as you go through the stations, make sure to portion wisely.
Because Foodease delivers so many vegetarian options like tilapia and marinated tofu, it makes eating out while still staying healthy quite easy.
I’ve been here numerous times and still have yet to try the sandwich or sushi counters. The next time I go, I’d love to get the sushi bar’s vegetable spring rolls, which are only $5 (cheaper than anything you could find at Whole Foods).
The seating area and interior of Foodease itself are not the most spacious, but you can often find a spot behind the wine shop, and if not, grab some utensils from their dispensers and take it back to campus.
Foodease is located at 835 N. Michigan Ave. and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.