My childhood memories of bento are tainted by Spam. I grew up in Hawaii, whose version of the meal-in-a-box includes all four major meat groups in one plastic container: a thin strip of teriyaki steak, a skin-encased chicken wing, fried mahi mahi and the aforementioned pork product.
At Get Bento, swine and gristle aren't on the menu. Four options exist, but they're organic and Oregon-style: fresh-cut vegetables ($5.50), all-white-meat chicken breast ($6.75), free-range grass-fed beef ($8), and the mystery product of the health-conscious: tempeh ($6.25). Like tofu, tempeh's less-hip soy counterpart, the starchy block soaks up the sauce it's cooked in, which in Get Bento's case is teriyaki. Actually, in all four entrees, teriyaki reigns supreme—the goopy, congealed, Kroger-brand sort of teriyaki. Health may be Get Bento's main objective, but flavor is not. Color comes in squeeze bottles of sweet-'n'-sour sauce and Sriracha. The beef resembles jerky, and the chicken tastes like, well, chicken. But the greatest shame is that the outdoor grill is only used for kebab veggies—portabella mushrooms, red peppers and onions—which are by far the tastiest things on the menu.
These qualities would be acceptable for a hole-in-the-wall lunch spot adjacent to a laundromat. But for a converted windshield-repair shop in the Pearl, owned by the man behind the über-stylized Bettie Ford Lounge, you'd expect more, or at least some form of manufactured pizzazz. The white walls, matching black chairs and token industrial piping provide a too-new-is-too-stale vibe. The only touch of cool-guy oomph is the flat-screen programmed to the Extreme Sports Channel. (Spare me the 311-scored snowboarding montages, please.)
But if the noon lunch crowd is any indication, the floor will be soiled and the tables chipped soon enough. And I suppose the outdoor picnic benches are a more comfortable alternative to fiddling with chopsticks on the walk back to the office. I'll even assume the recipes are still in the tweaking process. (I was told Get Bento will round out the fish quota soon with salmon available every Friday.) So unless they try to pass off a Spam option as "locally farm-raised," I won't get too "bent" out of shape.