It's been over nine months since Joseph Burnett, the chef instrumental in shaping Osprey Tavern in its early days, left that Baldwin Park restaurant. At the time, owner Jason Chin said there would be "new and exciting menu changes." There was conjecture that the menu would be made more tavernlike, in terms of both food and pricing.
On a recent visit, I did not find major changes on either front. There are some pubby offerings, such as Cottage Pie and Tavern Burger, though as far as I can remember a burger has always been available. But at $15, said burger is hardly priced like bar grub. And if you're inclined toward the Whole Grilled Branzino or Creekstone All Natural Ribeye, you can expect to pay $32 and $39 respectively.
But I've never had an issue with OT's price point. The quality was always commensurate.
And it still is.
Instead of replacing Burnett with another chef who would focus solely on Osprey, Chin, who with his wife, Sue, also owns Seito Sushi across the street and the recently opened Reyes Mezcalaria in North Quarter, added the restaurant to Austin Boyd's list of duties. Boyd is also the executive chef for Seito and Reyes.
My companion and I started our recent revisit with the Brentwood Farms Corn Chowder, a chewable soup with crunchy corn kernels and frizzled green onions dusted with paprika.
BBQ Lamb Shoulder was a small, sausage patty-sized disc of juicy meat served with bourbon glaze and diced pickled green tomatoes. A smear of pureed baked beans decorated the plate. This one at least sounded tavernlike, though its execution was decidedly hauter.
That Cottage Pie fit the bill, even with a stew based on braised short ribs. The well-crafted gravy had crunchy peas and hunks of carrots, all hidden under piped and toasted whipped potatoes.
I appreciated the option of a half portion of the Bolognese. The ragout was served with thick tagliatelle dotted with cracked black peppercorns. I saw no royal trumpet mushrooms, as the menu promised, but the blistered baby tomatoes were there, though frankly they seemed out of place with this dish.
Service remains competent and efficient. And nothing has changed about the decor, which I've always found appropriately bustling.
I'd be interested to know how many of the $39 ribeye are ordered compared to the burger (several were ordered by the party at a table near mine and they looked gorgeous). As with any restaurant, the clientele will drive the market. If Baldwinians are ordering the pricey and upscale entrees, they'll continue on. Next time, though, I'm having the burger. It fits my idea of tavern food.
Osprey Tavern is at 4899 New Broad St., Orlando. It is open for brunch Sunday and for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-960-7700.