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.
For as many years as I can remember, there was a sketchy looking business on Ferncreek Road just north of Michigan Street called Aardvark Beverages. It seemed to specialize in cold beer, especially those sold in hand keg sizes. It was undoubtedly of an age where a business’s position at the top of the Yellow Pages (ask your grandparents) was paramount. Now the most important thing is the algorithmic ranking (ask your grandkids). Although I probably drove past it thousands of times, I never felt the need to go inside.
Then, a couple of years ago, it started to change from a package beverage store to a boutique cafe (that also served packaged beer and still had kegs to go, because tradition). When I first visited the reimagined business, now called simply The Aardvark, I found it a charming place to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine or beer (both now on tap), but it didn’t seem fully baked.
Hari Pulapaka, who along with his wife, Jenneffer, built his DeLand restaurant, Cress, into a destination for Central Florida food fans, has stepped away from day-to-day operations and is no longer listed as the restaurant’s chef.
The new majority owner is Tom Brandt; the Pulapakas are still listed as co-owners and Jenneffer continues to run Cress’s wine program.
As of now, Visit Orlando is planning to go ahead with its Magical Dining Aug. 28 through Oct. 4. It will be the 15th year for the event formerly known as Magical Dining Month. Magical thinking? For those unfamiliar with the popular promotion, participating restaurants offer a $35 three-course menu, which often means big savings over the restaurant’s regular menu. One dollar from every meal sold goes to charity. Currently, no restaurants are listed on the official Magical Dining website. My question: Will the meals be available for takeout?
Oh hey, did you see where Florida had another record number of positive coronavirus test results? Sad news, but if you want to drown your sorrows with a drink from your favorite bar, it’s going to have to be one for the road – governor Ron DeSantis has extended the on-premise consumption ban for bars indefinitely.
Approaching four months into the pandemic, I checked in with some area restaurateurs to see how they’re adjusting and what lessons they’ve learned to keep up with the changing demands.
Alex Martinez of Stefano’s Trattoria says he’s learned that the right packaging is key for takeout. “Shortly after closing the dining room, we recognized the importance of going from styrofoam to plastic microwaveable containers,” he said.
Martinez also said that he learned that delivering food is not easy if you’ve never done it before. “This can be challenging when you have no experience,” he said. Like so many other restaurant owners, he sees third-party delivery apps as necessary. And online ordering, too.
The British government plans to pick up half the cost of the meal for anyone who dines out at a restaurant in that country. Well, up to £10 ($12.59) of the cost, not including alcohol. It’s an effort to boost the hospitality sector, which, as in the U.S., has been particularly negatively affected by the pandemic.