The Well Bento
Back in July of 2005, The Well Bento announced that it was closing after several years of operation. A little less than a month had passed before I discovered that the business was bought, and reopened, by a faithful customer and her fiancé.
The Well Bento is actually located in a very outdated, and well worn, two story walk-up that looks more like an apartment building than anything else. You'll know you've found them when you see this sign which is visible from the street as you're driving past.
In any case, once you've entered the parking lot, you'll notice Well Bento in the corner on the second floor. It's not much to look at, if you ask me.
As you step through the doorway, you'll notice the front counter and the open kitchen. Nowhere to sit, this is strictly take out. Notice the mural on the wall? That's a recent addition that brings some color to an otherwise, utilitarian space.
The menu is short, consisting of 7 different plate lunches, and a few sides. Half of the menu consists of vegetarian options -- the zen macrobiotic, tempeh, tofu or seitan. The other half of the menu is noted as "transitional" -- grilled chicken, salmon or steak and hamburger steak. In my opinion, even though the options seem a bit limiting, the menu offers something for everyone.
Since I had previously tried the vegetarian options (and loved them), this time, I opted for items from the transitional menu. Here is the grilled salmon (US$8.25).
The salmon is first seasoned with some olive oil and tamari sauce before being grilled to perfection. The salmon was served on top of some Lundberg brown rice that had been covered in what the menu said was tahini sauce. Looks like brown gravy, doesn't it? Tastes a little like it too, only not as rich. Garnished with some grilled/steamed vegetables, and served with a side of coleslaw and "healthy" macaroni salad, this made a satisfying lunch.
On another occasion, I decided to try a local favorite, the hamburger steak (US$7.50).
Here at Well Bento, you can have your hamburger steak prepared Louisiana style (with a homemade blend of Cajun seasonings), with Western BBQ sauce (which is a homemade maple barbecue sauce), or seasoned with tamari sauce. This time I chose the Western BBQ. The sauce gave a rich smokey, sweetness to the tender hamburger steak. The only downside was that the hamburger steak wasn't all that juicy -- probably because it wasn't too fatty or full of fillers.
The Well Bento offers diners healthy alternatives to the standard plate lunch and is a place that should not be missed. Keep in mind that the food here is cooked to order so be prepared to wait, sometimes in excess of 15 minutes. With nowhere to sit, this could make the wait time seem unusually long. It's recommended that you call ahead so that your plate lunch is ready upon your arrival. Since there are very few healthy plate lunch alternatives, I consider the Well Bento to be a bargain. Healthy, freshly prepared and delicious, what more can you ask for?
The Well Bento
2570 South Beretania Street Suite 204