Last updated: February 16. 2013 10:31PM - 143 Views

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You might know it by its sign. Or by its signature glazed green coffee mugs. Both contain two little bears, dining at table together, looking as if they're about to make a happy toast.

Nope? Then you're missing a hidden treasure, tucked away in bucolic Bear Creek Village.

Open only for breakfast and lunch, Bear Creek Café has to be one of the cutest, most peaceful places in all of NEPA, we dare say, to enjoy an early meal.

The first-shift crowd surely will find much to love on a breakfast menu whose entrées include everything from The Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Jolly Bear plates – containing varying combinations of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, potatoes, toast and pancakes – to creamed chipped beef (Chef Rob's personal recipe), stuffed French toast, a Belgian waffle and assortment of omelets. A Bear Hug and The Yummy Bear round out the morning menu as sandwich options. The first is eggs, cheese and meat in a flour tortilla, and the second is eggs, cheese and meat on a bagel. Both come with country potatoes.

We've had – and loved – almost everything on this menu before, but our purposes for this visit were to scope out the lunch menu, which we hadn't yet had much opportunity to enjoy.

It's sandwich heavy (as expected), but the options are attractive enough. The signature sandwich is a grilled turkey apple cheddar melt with apple slices and apple butter for $9.95, and that sounded like a great welcome back to almost-autumn, but we were drawn to The Café Quiche and another afternoon item with "bear" in its name.

Our two plates were almost studies in contrast, suitable for a mama and baby bear or perhaps a papa and baby or papa and mama. One of us sure looked hungry is my point.

By that we mean The Grizzly Bear – grilled chicken (or steak) with onions, sweet peppers and cheese (Provolone was chosen) on a hoagie roll for $9.95 – was absolutely huge, and half came home. But it also was absolutely delicious, with special points going out to the tasty roll, crunchy on the outside but all kinds of soft on the inside. Chicken was chopped and plentiful – well-seasoned, too – and the cheese was generous, with the peppers kicking in a sweet bite. Multigrain chips, a deli pickle and a daily side made the portion even larger (and tastier).

The Café Quiche ($7.95), on the other hand, was more delicate-looking, a pretty slice from a homemade pie. But it was plenty tasty: creamy and rich but not too rich.

"A nice, light lunch," my guest said, noting the generous cubed ham and mild cheese. Presentation was flawless, too.

This one came with a side salad and a dinner roll.

Options we passed over but would like to try in the future include the salmon burger ($8.95), Southwest Wrap ($9.95) and quesadillas ($6.95 or $8.95 with meat). Chef salad and a Mandarin chicken salad also are available for the garden-grazers. Both sounded intriguing and would make a nice lunch with soup.

Yep, there's soup. We each had a teeming and hot bowl of beef barley, with our only disappointment being the beef was of the ground variety rather than the meaty, tender chunks we prefer. Still, the broth had plenty of flavor, and sometimes soup is all about the broth.

Desserts, if you have the room, change daily, and homemade cakes and pies appear to steal the show.

So maybe plan to come hungry.

Like any self-respecting bear.

If you're lucky, you might even see one scampering through the scenic grounds complete with a flowing creek/stream, visible through the tall glass windows off the main dining room.

Did we see any bears? Nope, and, sure, that's probably a good thing. But truly we couldn't ask for a better view. Or a more pleasant lunch.

If you go

What: Bear Creek Café

Where: 98 White Haven Road, Bear Creek

Call: (570) 472-2299

Credit cards? Yes

Wheelchair accessible? Yes

Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Times Leader food critics remain anonymous.

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