When I first reviewed the Osprey Tavern it was still new and hadn’t quite defined itself. It got a boost to its self confidence with the recent hiring of Joseph Burnett as its executive chef. Burnett’s bona fides include the original Norman’s in Coral Gables and the existing Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Before joining Osprey, he was chef de cuisine at the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.
Burnett has made changes to the menu but it isn’t a complete overhaul, at least not yet. He has added a chef’s table experience, which I was invited to try during a media preview.
The chef’s table isn’t in the kitchen but sits next to it and has a good view of the action going on in the open arena. For that matter, so do most of the other tables in the bustling dining room, but presumably only the chef’s table menu is offered at this 12-top next to the glass-front wine cabinets.
We started with an amuse bouche of a single iced oyster topped with paddlefish caviar. For those who only experience oysters by the bucket, this might seem insufficient. But the cool brininess of the plump oyster enhanced by the unctuousness of the fish eggs was better than two buckets on the half shell.
A salad featuring heirloom beets followed. The vegetables were artistically arranged and served with soft goat cheese, gooseberry and crushed hazelnuts with a little bit of salmon roe. (That Osprey must spend a lot of time plucking fish out of Lake Baldwin so the kitchen can harvest the eggs!)
Perhaps so as not to waste the rest of the fish, Alaskan King Salmon was the next course, a beautiful orange fillet balanced atop gnudi, a type of gnocchi made with ricotta, to raise it out of the rich shellfish broth. Black radish, artichokes and tiny pink flowers decorated the dish. A lovely presentation for a delicious piece of fish.
Whole roasted chickens were divvied up and served with duchess potatoes and just enough peas and carrots to add a little color.
A standing rib roast was shown to the table before it was taken back to be carved and plated along with tomatoes, morel mushrooms and a platform fashioned out of pureed rutabagas.
Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake (delightfully not billed as gluten-free) with salted caramel and roasted cocoa nib ice cream.
Service was very good. I had the same waiter as I did on the previous visit and he remembered my preferred pre-dinner cocktail. Always a nice touch. (and yes, I know that it's easier for servers to remember what a restaurant critic orders, but I think you'll find that service in general is above average here.)
Osprey Tavern has also recently started serving brunch. We’ll take a look at that another time.
The Osprey Tavern is at 4899 New Broad St., Orlando. It is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and brunch on Sunday. The chef’s table has a minimum requirement of 10 guests to book it. Cost depends on final menu and pairings, but $100 per person plus tax and gratuity for the chef’s tasting menu is an example. Reservations for the chef’s table are required (you’d be surprised how many people show up at restaurants demanding to be seated at the chef’s table). The phone number 407-960-7700.