The word Tavern is still on the outside of the building in Baldwin Park, and it still appears on the charge slip, but the owners of what originally was known as the Osprey Tavern would like you now to just call it the Osprey. And when you think of it, think of it as more of a seafood restaurant.
The owners are Jason and Sue Chin, whose restaurants are now under the auspices of Good Salt Restaurant Group. (Why not Best Salt or even Better Salt? I don’t know, but I like the name.) The disparate brands include Seito Sushi, just across the street from the erstwhile tavern, and Reyes Mezcalaria in the North Quarter. Reyes’ executive chef, the talented Wendy Lopez, is serving as culinary director at the Osprey, with Anthony Watler as its chef de cuisine. Elek Kovacs, who had been executive chef, left with the tavern.
By no means is the menu fully fish; there are still entrees of prime bone-in ribeye, pasta with duck sausage, roast chicken, and cannelloni filled with beef.
But those items are interspersed with the likes of lobster rolls and fish & chips along with loftier offerings of sunburst trout, sea scallops and cioppino.
It was the latter two I ordered to be picked up along with an appetizer of crush puppies, which sounds like something that should be reported to the ASPCA but whose first name is actually a portmanteau of crab and hush.
They were standard puppies, goldenly crisped, but with bits of blue crab and kernels of sweet corn in the mix. Subtly spiced and moist.
The sea scallops were large but at $26 rather dear for three. They were nicely seared and served in a puddle of creamy polenta infused with rosemary, with a corn based relish on top and bits of asparagus strewn here and there.
There was a scallop in the cioppino, as well, kept company by mussels, clams, red shrimp and hunks of fish, all getting along swimmingly in a tomato broth tinged with saffron. It was served with a slightly over toasted baguette for sopping up the delicious broth.
The takeout menu is only slightly shorter than the full dine-in menu – a whole branzino is not offered, one supposes because packaging would be a challenge. But even though the online order form reads “Takeaway & Curbside Pick Up” at the top of the page, I was told that curbside pickup was not an option.
However, when I arrived at the restaurant and saw it a little too busy for my comfort level, I called and asked to have the food brought outside, and my request was accommodated by a young masked man. (I’m not implying that Osprey wasn’t observing proper distancing guidelines, though some other restaurants nearby were definitely flaunting the rules.)
The Chins have proven themselves to be capable restaurateurs who offer reliable quality. Even as it leaves the tavern behind, the Osprey is sure to soar.
The Osprey is at 4899 New Broad St., Orlando. It is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-960-7700.