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 offers an adequate selection of beer, wine and soft drinks to accompany your meal.We found all the staff at Owen’s to be very warm, welcoming and friendly, attributes all consistent with the atmosphere. Even though there may be a wait for a table, there is no delay from the wait staff. All our meals were served promptly.
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