Lunchtime diners at Bistro 19, 19 N. George St. in York, enjoy the restaurant s indoor courtyard. The Bistro offers light fare and  bistro bag  meals for
Lunchtime diners at Bistro 19, 19 N. George St. in York, enjoy the restaurant s indoor courtyard. The Bistro offers light fare and bistro bag meals for less than $10. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
A trip to Bistro 19 in York can be whatever experience you want to make it.

An affordable night out. Or a lavish special occasion. An elegant business lunch. Or a no-fuss meal on-the-go.

I can't recall ever eating at such a versatile establishment. I struggle to think of the right metaphor to describe it. Is it the Swiss Army Knife of dining? The utility infielder?

Both lame jack-of-all-trades comparisons would sell Bistro 19 short.

A Swiss Army Knife can't replace a good screwdriver, and most utility players can't hit.

This restaurant thrives within each of its multiple identities and appears to blend its diverse menu options seamlessly.

Executive chef and co-owner Troy Sweitzer embraces the eclectic and strives for "food with a twist.

Philly cheesesteak egg rolls are among the interesting options on Bistro 19 s diverse menu.
Philly cheesesteak egg rolls are among the interesting options on Bistro 19 s diverse menu. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
"

Examples abound on Bistro 19's wide-ranging menu, a reflection of the American melting pot. Sweitzer's culinary style veers from American homestyle/comfort food, to regional favorites, to Asian, Italian, French and a lot in between.

The crab bruschetta appetizer ($8), for example, is a traditional crab dip baked into a French loaf topped with cool chunks of tomato, garlic and basil. He finishes his meatloaf ($17) - made with ground beef, pork and veal - with a semi-sweet blackberry gravy.

And who ever heard of a Philly cheesesteak egg roll?

I now regret keeping my order so simple when I visited. But I was in the mood for a burger, so I went with the bistro stack ($9).

It still offered pleasant surprises. The mushrooms and onions weren't just sautéed, but caramelized to their peak flavor.

A grilled tomato made the sandwich nice and juicy. You have your choice of cheese, and I opted for Pepper Jack.

A smoky half-pound slab of beef, a sweet tomato and some spicy cheese - can you ask for a better burger?

My fellow cheap eater selected the bistro salad with French fries and grilled chicken, similar to a Pittsburgh salad.

She marveled at the variety of fresh, colorful greens.

Bistro 19 has a striking exterior to go with its inviting atmosphere.
Bistro 19 has a striking exterior to go with its inviting atmosphere. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
No boring iceberg lettuce here.

We both ordered off of the "light fare" menu, which is a available all day, every day. Most items are less than $10.

The dinner entrées are in the $17 to $30 range, but a new "comfort food" menu coming soon will have more offerings between $10 and $20.

The options don't stop there, amazingly. The "bistro bag" meals sound like a brilliant idea for the restaurant's location near the courthouse and other downtown office buildings.

Made to go, the breakfast bag ($4.95) includes a breakfast sandwich, fruit and coffee or tea, and the lunch version ($6.95) has a sandwich, chips, pickle and a drink.

This savvy business move makes me think Bistro 19 will succeed where others at this location have failed in the past few years.

The eatery has a creative chef and the financial backing of owners with diverse business experience. And the building felt as welcoming as it is beautiful.

The only thing missing: a liquor license.

The owners hope to complete the transfer by the end of the summer. In the meantime, the place is BYOB.

Cheap Eats is a biweekly column on local restaurants' meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Wade Malcolm at 771-2101 or wmalcolm@ydr.com.

If you go

LOCATION: Bistro 19, 19 N. George St. in York

CUISINE: American and French

WADE'S PICK: Bistro stack burger

PARKING: Metered on-street parking

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m.

to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday (brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

PRICE RANGE: $6.50 to $12 for light fare, available any time; $17 to $30 for dinner entrees.

ALCOHOL: Currently BYOB while awaiting liquor license transfer

SMOKING: No

ACCEPTS: Cash and major credit card

TAKEOUT: Yes

KID'S MENU: Mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese and other options available on request.

DETAILS: 845-1900

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Find more local food news at www.letseatpa.com.

More

For more cheap eats, click here.