This column offers a sampling of dining experiences in the area. It is not intended as a review of the restaurant other than to provide the reader with one diner's experience. It also appears in The Herald's Friday entertainment section, "Ticket."
LOCATION: 20 N Congress St., York
HOURS: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11-2:30 p.m. Sunday
AMBIANCE: Laid-back restaurant and bar
York's historic downtown sets the mood for grabbing lunch at Bryan's Bistro, which I formerly knew as The Cotton Gin Tavern. The large, high-ceiling room wasn't loud during our lunch hour, as we needed a quick break and filling meal.There's plenty of seating, at the bar or at many tables and chairs, including a step-up platform along one wall where we grabbed a seat. I was sure to grab one of the chairs with padded seating.The waitress quickly greeted us with menus with the theme: "Food, Friends, Fun!!!"It's a relaxing place, made eclectic by the brick and mortar peeking underneath the chipped wall paint. There's history here.The four-page menu offers typical bar and grill foods such as wings, fried mushrooms, potato skins and sampler platter for starters ($5.50-$8.50). There are 20 items under sandwiches and such, ranging from $1.50 for grilled cheese, hot dog or corn dog to $5.95 for chicken or tuna salad, 4 oz. rib eye or chicken cordon bleu.Burgers ($3.25-$7.50) include Bryan's Backyard Burger with cheese, chili and slaw, or a Philly burger with two patties, Philly meat, cheese, grilled peppers and onions, as well as a mushroom and Swiss. And pizzas ($5.95-$8.50) are served on a 12-inch tomato basil tortilla, and you can even get a Philly one. There also is a hamburger steak plate ($6.50) and shrimp basket ($8.95), and children's meals for $4. Oh, and there are salads, too.While one friend bit into a beefy burger, the other ate up the scrumptious and packed Philly cheesesteak sandwich.Staying within what I noticed to be a Philly theme, I went for the Fat Albert -- piled shaved ham with lettuce, tomato and mayo on a soft, big white bun. Next time, I'd ask for a slice of cheese with it, even though between the fries and meat-packed -- though not shaved as much as folded over -- Albert, I walked away stuffed and content.With quick service and great food, hey, hey, hey, grab the gang and take an adventure in historic downtown York. If you can't sit a spell, there's carry-out, too.