Nestled in a small Burns Court lot, a small, mid-1920s cottage sits under a more than 80-year-old banyan tree. The former home of Owen Burns today is a favorite Sarasota seafood restaurant, Owen’s Fish Camp. Styled after a 1950s “Old Florida” fishing camp, the ambiance is nostalgic, a bit quaint and just a fun place to enjoy a fresh Florida fish dinner.
A popular downtown spot for families and groups of friends, the restaurant is consistently busy. Since reservations are only accepted for parties of 6 or more, at times there may be a wait for a table. However, a recent expansion opened up a back porch and yard area. In this new space guests may have a drink, sit around a fire pit on cool evenings or play games. This diversion makes the wait for a table inconsequential.
As one would expect, the menu is almost exclusively seafood-based, ranging from a raw bar to seafood baskets, sandwiches and a daily choice of fresh fish entrees and sides. There is a token nod to the non-seafood eater with offers of flat iron steak, burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork or a grilled veggie platter. Although none too too sophisticated, the menu offers quality, freshness and value. For our meals, we had the following:
- Smoked Mullet: Spread with Saltines $8.00 Smooth, smoky flavor, not too overpowering. A tad salty for my taste but a nice, simple starter.
- Key West Conch Ceviche: $8.00 Fresh, firm texture. Chewy with a little spicy “kick” to it.
- Seafood Cobb Salad: Avocado, bacon, egg, tarragon vinaigrette $16.00 A very nice rendition of the classic Cobb salad. Fresh, colorful, flaky fish, full of great flavor and texture combinations. Surprisingly filling.
- Grilled Romaine Caesar with Fried Shrimp Skewer: $9.00 Instead of fried shrimp, we chose grilled shrimp. A great value! Loved the grilled romaine---it was warm and charred on the outside with nice colors, yet cold and crispy on the inside. The shrimp was fresh with a slight crunch. Very tasty and full of shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Pan Seared Grouper: Served with spicy collard greens and garlic pasta $27.00 A very simple presentation, very fresh, great color and moist.
- Grilled Corvina: Served with garlicky green beans and Owen’s succotash $27.00 Fresh, flaky, almost sweet-tasting fish. The sides were fresh, crisp and well-portioned. I just love Owen’s colorful and crunchy succotash.
- Fried Oyster Basket: Served with cocktail sauce and shoestring fries $19.00 Such a seafood classic. The oysters were crunchy and deliciously sweet with good flavor and texture. If you are an oyster lover and want to indulge, this is the dish for you.
- Seared Sea Scallops: With braised pork and Owen’s succotash $22.00 An interesting combination of scallops and pork. At first I was uncertain about this combination, but it works very well together. Smoky, sweet goodness.
Owen’s Fish Camp seems to have the right formula for success. Offering a very friendly, fun setting, with fresh fish at reasonable prices, the Fish Camp keeps people coming back for more. Why not give it a try again?
Owen’s Fish Camp
516 Burns Ln.
Sarasota, FL 34236
Open at 4 p.m. daily