Only good surpises in this restaurant

Surprise is not always desirable in food. The strong taste and soft texture of a bit of liver in a chicken soup can be unwelcome, for example. But in Frazer’s bread pudding the crunchy surprises were all welcome, from the bit of chocolate to the buttery crouton. This combined with the bourbon cream made this a memorable bread pudding, possibly even surpassing the flourless chocolate cake I had. Fortunately my nearly perfect husband shared!

But no, we didn’t eat our dessert first. I’ll have to try that sometime, see what the servers think! I’ve written before about the challenge of ordering well. Here we mastered it. Dave had a lovely salad with duck breast, and I had one with a nice strip of butternut squash. This squash seems to be appearing everywhere these days, from the gnocchi being pushed at Trader Joe’s, to a soup at Holmes on the Wash U campus, to this lovely salad.

We followed the salads with a skewer of scallop, mushroom, shrimp, sausage, pepper, and tenderloin, and lettuce wraps with lime and ground pork. Both were delicious. Furthermore, there were lots of other things that looked tempting, like the Moroccan tilapia. We’ll have to come back. But, did I say it? Frazer’s is a bit of a drive from Houston, 13 hours and 16 minutes to be exact. Yes, it is in St. Louis, and so are we.

Frazer’s is not the first thing you see when you get off I 55 South at Arsenal. It is the huge Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The smell of malt is in the air when you park your car, no valet here. St. Louis in this neighborhood looks almost European, with narrow tall brick houses close to the curb, but enough space for trees, leafless and wispy in this early spring. St. Louis looks very different from Houston, more like Detroit, with tall, narrow brick buildings packed very close together.

Turning off I 44 onto I 55 to get to Frazer’s gave me a shiver of joy, for it said Memphis, the first time I’ve seen it on a sign since Anna got a job at University of Memphis, our newly-minted (nearly!) sociology professor. But for Frazer’s we got right off. We were apparently near, but not in, Soulard, and a big Mardi Gras celebration is coming up Saturday.

How did we find this excellent restaurant that even natives hadn’t heard of? Well, the owner-chef is the brother of an old friend, Sydney Cameron, a famous social bee researcher at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She discovered that stingless bees are more closely related to bumblebees than to honeybees. She has written on fascinating bumblebees like the one that walks around in the Amazonian forest, foraging on foot and making trails if I remember right. She’s from Houston, and has more taste than anyone I know. She was the inspiration for our bright blue paint in our den, but don’t hold that against her.

The lesson from Frazer’s for those without a spare 27 hours to drive up and back? Order a salad, an appetizer, maybe a dessert. Nurse a single glass of wine. Savor your food, and you’ll feel better afterwards. All too many restaurant reviews on Yelp end with things like food comas, not attractive to contemplate. Us? We’re headed home soon, back to warm, welcoming Houston.


View out the window of Frazer’s.


It’s a homey place, very welcoming.


They make everything there, even the soft bread.


Duck salad.


Lettuce wraps.


Part of the delicious skewer.


The bread pudding,better than it looks.


I could use another piece of this cake right now!

About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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