Penn's Tavern | Fisher's Ferry, PA
Celebrating Seafood & German Heritage
Just south of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, in the tiny hamlet of Fisher’s Ferry, stands an early 18th Century stone building — now called Penn’s Tavern — which is the oldest building in Northumberland County. This historic edifice has had many reincarnations. Built as a roadside inn in colonial days, it has been a ferry house, a post office, a railroad station and a restaurant. There is much lore associated with the place, which is reputed to be haunted. Local entrepreneurs Tom and Liz Mertz are the current owners. They officially opened Penn’s Tavern for business as a dining establishment on June 25, 2016. They have kept the charming stone walls, fireplace and wide plank floors. A statue in the bar pays homage to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
Situated on River Road, on the banks of the Susquehanna River, Penn’s Tavern boasts an idyllic setting. During the summer months, a waterfront deck becomes prime dining real estate, as guests watch the comings and goings on the river and listen to the rhythmic clickety-clack of the occasional train passing nearby. Tuesday nights, live music runs to jazz, blues and rock oldies.
The Mertz’s hired Kelly Lynch as opening chef, and she has made quite a name for herself and the Tavern in just a year’s time. Lynch is a self-taught chef. “I inherited my interest in all things culinary from my father, who was a great adventurous cook. My restaurant career began in a pizzeria when I was just 15, and I never looked back. Later, I started working out of my home as a private chef and caterer. I have enjoyed the process of putting together the menu here at Penn’s Tavern. It’s great to have so many fine ingredients at my disposal. Our menu is an eclectic mix of American favorites and German specialties. This area was settled by many German immigrants and we’ve incorporated recipes found up in the attic to our repertoire, including Wiener Schnitzel, Sauerbraten and Spaetzel.”
Chef Lynch’s “go-to” ingredient is scallops. The top-seller among appetizers is Scallops Ceviche. The dish is prepared with a slightly spicy lime juice marinade with fresh peppers, onions, cilantro and serrano peppers. One of Lynch’s favorite entrees is Pan-Seared Scallops with Raspberry Sauce and Lemon Risotto. Another outstanding fish entrée is Nuts and Berry Salmon. The fish is encrusted with pecans and breadcrumbs, and the dish is topped with a mango reduction made with fresh blueberries and raspberries.
For the house-made Crab Cakes, Lynch uses lump crab meat plus claw meat for a little sweetness. A few crackers, butter and seasonings complete the recipe. A creole tartar sauce complements the cakes. “Guests from Maryland have praised my crab cakes,” Lynch said, “saying they are as good as those back home.” Fish Tacos are offered with either Barramundi or Mahi Mahi, tucked into warm flour tortillas with a salsa of mango, radish and lime, cabbage slaw and a sriracha chipotle ranch sauce. The Fish Reuben features blackened Barramundi, Swiss cheese and Russian-dressed house-made slaw on marbled rye bread.
Penn’s Tavern is proud to support Pennsylvania’s craft breweries, with 12 microbrews on tap.
“We serve an average of 190 guests on Friday and Saturday nights,” Lynch said. “I would like a larger kitchen; however, we do not want to alter this historic building. My background as a caterer has taught me that, with a little organization, a chef can cook almost anywhere."