What: Leo’s on Mane (open to the public)
Where: Gateway Corners/King’s College, North Main and East North streets, Wilkes-Barre
Call: 570-208-5833 (King’s Dining Services)
Credit cards? Yes
Why we went: Always been curious. And we were downtown on a Sunday, bewildered by how many restaurants were closed. Now was as good a time as any. (OK, maybe we also wanted to feel a little bit young again.)
Menu highlights: Flatbread, far and away. These substantially sized gourmet creations, which, of course, fall into the personal-pizza family, come in an array of choices here and, at $4.95 apiece, provide about twice the bang for your buck as compared with an average restaurant-served flatbread. The Thai sweet chili chicken and buffalo-chicken versions are about as memorable as they get. The flatbread itself was generously sized with a noticeably smoky (in a good way) flavor and just the right amount of chewiness. Tender, clean, chunk chicken atop, in both forms, was well-flavored, with the buffalo having just enough kick and the Thai a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. We plan to go back and try perhaps every version of these little beauties.
Mini egg rolls ($4.50) were an excellent little appetizer —as chubby as they were crispy and bursting with filling.
Other choices: Lunches and casual dinners are the featured fare here, though this is also a great little spot for early-morning or late-night meals. A bacon-egg-and-cheese omelet served with tater tots was the featured (a.k.a. only) breakfast on this Sunday, and it was more than decent, most commendably lacking that rubbery, dining-service/airline-tray texture. This was an omelet bursting with cheddar cheese that didn’t skimp on the real bacon and was not at all dry. The tater tots were just a cute grown-up-kid-style bonus.
Upscale sandwiches and salads are the bread and butter here, and the menu takes it one further by offering some entry-level fusion cuisine. Buffalo-chicken quesadillas ($5.95), for example, seem like the perfect marriage of of two worlds sure to please students, college and downtown employees as well as other visitors in equal measure. As with the buffalo-chicken flatbread, the chicken itself and the sauce were generous and the flavors beyond fault.
Dessert: A f’real machine will tempt with make-your-own milkshakes, smoothies and frozen coffees. A cookies-and-cream version of the first ($3.25) was highly caloric but also highly appealing, given the machine even lets you select your own thickness. It’s fun to use. What else to say?
Beverages: Cooler drinks and fountain beverages join Starbucks coffees, lattes and cappuccinos.
Ambience: College-cafe, of course, but cute and comfortable for all. Seat yourself in actual furniture around a coffee table or at small street-side table and chairs or cozy booths in the back. Place your order and pick it up when your buzzer goes off. You don’t have to tip, but the student employees will certainly appreciate it if you do.
Overall impression: Could this be a best-kept Wilkes-Barre secret? We felt a bit like infiltrators but were welcomed and treated warmly. And, no, we weren’t the only diners no longer bearing college IDs.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 6:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays; 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. Even late at night, the area is well-lighted and safe.