Frazier's is prime Hampden

April 04, 1996|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Barbara Greenspun, who with her husband, Norman, owns the original Frazier's, had a plan for their new restaurant. A big fan of Baltimore's toniest steak house, she wanted Frazier's on the Avenue to be "the Prime Rib of Hampden."

They hired a chef. (Not "cook," mind you.) He's Eric Nachbahr, whose work experience includes the Ritz Carlton in Washington, John Steven Ltd. in Fells Point and even a short stint at M. Gettier.

Mr. Nachbahr uses fresh herbs and can whip up a bearnaise sauce for the filet mignon. Baked brie is one of the appetizers. The vegetables are fresh. The baked potatoes come without aluminum foil.

But in spite of all that, Frazier's on the Avenue manages to be very much a child of the original Frazier's -- a comfortable little Hampden eatery where you can get "Frazier's Famous Two Dinners for $9.95" before 6 p.m. No substitutions, please.

So is it the Prime Rib of Hampden? Well, prime rib is on the regular menu, 16 ounces for $14.95. (Unfortunately it wasn't available the Thursday night we were there.) But there the resemblance ends.

The Greenspuns have renovated the space where the Ye Eat Shoppe used to be and put a bar in front where the counter was. But it's still classic Hampden, with booths and oilcloth tablecloths -- comfortable and very casual.

The food is straightforward, simple American. And it's great. OK, it's not perfect -- there are winter tomatoes in the salad and the cream isn't quite cream and the bread could be better. But for the price? Great.

Shrimp bisque, freshly made, was addictively good -- a pink, peppery cream, not too thick, with lots of chopped shrimp.

The fish of the day was superbly fresh rockfish, cooked just until moist and flaky with fresh tomatoes, spinach, onions and mushrooms.

A petite filet for $9.95 was 6 ounces of tender, flavorful beef wrapped in bacon cooked pink as ordered. It came with a baked potato and a melange of fresh broccoli, carrots and squash.

The penne had a light, nicely seasoned cream sauce with chunks of white-meat chicken, fresh broccoli and walnuts. A piece of garlic bread came with it.

Only one dessert was available that evening, but it was a good one: a nice, warm, homey bread pudding with a creamy custard sauce.

Alas, there's always a fly in the ointment. Because Frazier's on the Avenue is a bar, smoking is allowed in the dining room. Unfortunately, the restaurant doesn't have a no-smoking section. At some restaurants that wouldn't matter -- I've sat next to smokers and not noticed when the ventilation is good enough. It isn't at Frazier's on the Avenue.

Frazier's on the Avenue:

919 W. 36th St. (410) 662-4914

Hours: Open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m., Sunday until 8 p.m.

Credit cards: MC, V

Prices: Appetizers, $3.95-$5.95; entrees and light fare, $5.95- $14.95

Pub Date: 4/04/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.