On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Red Horse Tavern welcomes neighbors and friends

As you read this column, I am hoping that you are exactly where you want to be for Christmas — whether it is with family or friends. I wish you joy for today and blessings in 2013.

A few weeks ago some friends and I decided to try the food at the Red Horse Tavern in Pleasant Gap. Because of a long line of people waiting that evening, my group did not wait, but I decided that I would find out more about the restaurant.

Justin Leiter, who owns the tavern along with his partner Courtney Confer, met with me and told me a little about the plans for the Red Horse. The partners come from a good culinary background. Confer was the main chef at the Gamble Mill in Bellefonte, and Leiter was assistant chef there for 10 years. Leiter went to culinary school in Pittsburgh and has years of experience behind him. He has been executive chef at the Carnegie House and assistant chef at The Village at Penn State, as well as the recent experience with Gamble Mill.

Leiter, a Bellefonte High School graduate, said cooking shows on PBS sparked his interest, and after a demonstration by a culinary school from Pittsburgh, he made his decision to enroll. Leiter met his wife, Renee, also a culinary school graduate, while working at The Village at Penn State. Although she works at AccuWeather, she is able to help keep things running smoothly when she is at the restaurant.

Working with Meyer Dairy, Fasta Pasta and other local businesses allows the partners to fulfill their “fresh and local” goals. Leiter said, “No, I don’t bake. We engage Clare Traynor from Sweet Indulgence and Charles Niedermyer (Gemelli Bakers) to round out our menus.”

Niedermyer is also an instructor in the culinary program at Penn College.

The new owners have done renovations — sprucing up the bar area and laying new tile on the floor. New paint has freshened the walls. The dining room, which holds 48, is welcoming and cozy with a corner fireplace and a decorated Christmas tree.

Three reviews on Trip Advisor were very complementary to this new endeavor in an old familiar setting at 104 N. Main St., Pleasant Gap. Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Dinner is from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.