Hammered Steel Tavern hoping to open in May
Updated: May 6
By Katie Collins
Follow Katie @Lifestyles51
TAFTON – An opportunity to be creative in the kitchen arose, so Don Partney and Jill Murphy took it. This May, Partney and Murphy, will begin a new journey by sharing Partney’s passion of cooking and blending their joy for socializing with any and all who visit Hammered Steel Tavern in Tafton.
Partney’s culinary expertise derives from watching his father cook at the steak and seafood restaurant he owned, as well as the many times he crafted new recipes that his friends assessed. Today, confident in his skills and knowledge, Partney says the tavern will offer “American fare” because he understands what foods people enjoy and from his knowhow, he will build his menu upon that.
While Partney owned two restaurants and a bed and breakfast elsewhere, the couple found the latest eatery, which was BOTA'S Crossroads Tavern, while looking at homes in the area. After being a truck driver for 30 years, Partney says he wasn’t sure if he’d reenter the industry, but the history of the building and love for the kitchen won the couple over.
Since he doesn’t want to be just another chef in the area, Partney says his food will be “above and beyond” because of his experience and ideas; the foods in the region don't compare to what he’ll offer because everything will be fresh and he’ll recreate dishes already known, but they’ll be reborn, such as the Lobster Newburg. Partney says the dish is an “old school style” food that will have his “twist,” because of the steps he takes to make the meal, from adding the right herb butter to steaming the food and grilling the lobster so it browns.
Offering a “medley of different vegetables” will be an additional distinctiveness to the Hammered Steel Tavern Partney says, because he’ll focus on what is in season and then blanch them to enhance the color, add highly seasoned water with “rainbow butter” followed by additional steps.
The menu will be completely original, Partney says, because the recipes are his own and foods like frog legs, will be different since they’re a bar appetizer or will be part of an entrée with catfish. It's not just the foods offered though, that will make Hammered Steel Tavern special, but the way Partney prepares the meals because of how attentive he is to detail.
Once Partney has an idea of what foods people prefer, his menu may change. But, to start, since there’s so many possibilities and ideas, Partney has edited his menu numerous times. Specials don’t mean the food is old, it’s just something that’s “special” and “different” he says. Seasonal foods will vary as well, with soups only served in the colder months, even though he will make “killer soups.”
Wood in the dining area was harvested from a barn in Beach Lake, so Murphy who appreciates history, wants to learn more of the building’s past, because she hopes to show the eatery’s role in the community through photos. The barn setting will remain since it's “beautiful” with the barnwood that’s “gorgeous” Murphy says. Because of the hand cut wood, Partney says the “barn motif” will remain with whiskey barrels and such decor. For those who have photos of the structure and happenings through the years, Murphy may be interested in sharing them.
Aside from fresh food, there will be a clean, modernized tavern since Partney and his friends have rebuilt areas of the tavern and replaced the equipment in the kitchen and furnishings in the tavern. Both Murphy and Partney expressed gratitude to their many friends who have helped in the renovations of the tavern. Murphy says people have been curious, so Partney wants the community to know that the Hammered Steel Tavern is going to be a long-lasting eatery.
A few of Partney’s foods
Eventually, Partney says he’ll have fried chicken that’s not honey kissed or dipped, but butter milked, breaded and fresh so it’ll fall off the bone.
Partney called his pig candy a “quite appealing” appetizer because of the contrast between the sweet, caramelized raw bacon with brown sugar and chocolate. Or, there’s hot bacon candy too, with chili flakes.
For the chicken Florentine, Partney will sauté the breast with fresh tomatoes, spinach, a creamy herb sauce sauteed in a pan that’ll be wrapped in a puff pastry once it's baked golden brown. On the plate, there will be a bearnaise sauce and that meal, Partney says is “to die for.”
The various burgers will be “bold and savory seasoned” Partney says, such as one topped with bacon, blue cheese, French compound butter and pickled chips. Then there’s a “weird” burger that is “savory sweet and spicy” with peppered bacon and chili aioli. To go with the burgers, Partney will make his own Asian slaw with cream cabbage, napa cabbage, red cabbage and more.
Quality at a cost
Partney says fresh shrimp is costly, but the quality is better, so he’ll take the time to process the shrimp himself so when customers bite into the fare, it’ll be crisp and firm with his own cocktail sauce. Although it’s a “labor intensive” food, he doesn’t mind because, “I am the chef” and it’s a chance to share his skills.
Although some dishes will be more expensive, Partney says it’ll be the “quality” that people will see and want to pay for. When he cooks, no matter the dish, Partney wants to hear ‘oh my god, this is great!’ When friends and customers are pleased, that is simply “satisfying.”
A place to learn
For Hammered Steel Tavern’s first year, Partney doesn’t intend on leaving the kitchen, because he wants to ensure his staff is trained to his standards. If a person is willing to learn and listen, he will train them. Murphy says the business will be a place where people can grow. Partney adds that once they make friends, they’re eventually family.
Rain, snow or sunshine, the Hammered Steel Tavern will be open because the couple lives upstairs and they plan on serving those plowing the roads and the snowmobilers passing by. Since many eateries close because of harsh weather, Partney says the tavern won't because “we want consistency.”
Honoring those who’ve served
A Vietnam veteran, Partney was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, his son is a Marine and many of his friends have served, so to recognize veterans and first responders, there will be an “honor room” for pictures of area men and women in uniform.
A good time
Partney says Hammered Steel Tavern will be known as a place where people can have a good time, because the couple are people persons and want to know their customers, even though he’s the chef, he will meet those who enjoy his foods. Murphy says customers will have a “friendly and enjoyable” time with “good food.” Partney expects people to be pleased because he hopes to create good dining experiences and be known for the great staff and food.
Hammered Steel Tavern is located at 412 PA-390, Tafton, PA. For more information visit Hammered Steel Tavern on Facebook.