by Dixie Redfern | The Union Newspaper
Ike Frazee calls the food at his Nevada City Cajun restaurant “Gumbo Pot Cuisine,” but his piercing blue eyes convey a passion that goes well beyond the catchy label.
Ike’s Quarter Cafe is a bit of organic culinary heaven, wedged into a corner lot at Commercial and York streets with indoor dining and a sunny, dog-friendly patio.
What’s remarkable is that Frazee, 35, who started his restaurant career as a dishwasher, juggles more balls on a daily basis than most of us could ever imagine.
He’s married to Adrienne, his business partner for eight years. Ike cooks while Adrienne handles the books and “front of the house” chores.
Their first child, Jezra, was born seven years ago as they were preparing to open Ike’s. Their second child, Piper, is now 4 years old and the baby, Violet, is almost 2.
If that seems like enough to deal with, consider that Ike cooks everything from scratch, his menu is fully organic, and he tries to use locally grown produce and grass-fed beef exclusively. Making five types of bread a day from scratch is no easy feat.
“It’s what I call real food,” Ike Frazee says. “Once you eat something like clean, real meat, you can’t go back. Even our pancakes are freshly made – nothing comes from a bag or box.”
So here’s Ike, with a wife and three children and a kitchen with six burners that’s not exactly spacious – cooking up a storm.
Kirsten Pierer, a 7-year Nevada County resident, had praise for Ike’s on a recent afternoon as she sat in the cozy dining room.
“I love the food and I love the fact it’s organic,” Pierer said. “The specials, the homemade bread, the leisure atmosphere. They’re very real people. The food tastes like it’s made with love. The atmosphere and the organic food is nourishing to me,” Pierer added.
And there’s another reason everything tastes so good.
“In the summer about 75 percent of our vegetables come from within 30 miles,” Frazee said. In the summer months, the tomatoes on your hamburger might be from the Frazee garden in North San Juan, where the family lives on 20 acres.
Ike’s menu is extensive, with pages of breakfast items ranging from the Cajun sausages to his signature flapjacks and more. Lunch and dinner offer entrees such as pecan-crusted catfish, rice and beans, gumbo and all manner of tasty sauces.
At one time the Frazees were vegan. Though the family is not vegan any more, a vegetarian alternative exists for every meat item on the menu. Ever heard of vegetarian bacon?
Ike and Adrienne went to Louisiana on their honeymoon and have been back a handful of times. He chose to open a restaurant featuring Cajun food because of its diversity.
“It’s a true gumbo pot of cuisine,” Frazee said. “Influences of Spanish, Creole, French, African-American – it’s so varied.”
As a professional chef, he knows there is a definite art to cooking. He graduated from Nevada Union High School and graduated in ’92 from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He’s worked with Peter Selaya and helped his chef-friend open the adjacent New Moon Cafe.
When it was time to name the restaurant, Ike decided on Ike’s Quarter Cafe for several reasons.
“The restaurant is themed after the French Quarter; we’re located in the Chinese Quarter, we’re on a quarter of a lot and in the beginning everything was priced to the quarter,” Frazee said.
Ike says he’s extremely thankful to the following businesses:
Nevada County Recycles, Nevada County Grass-fed Beef, Loma Rica Farm, Riverhill Farm, Backbraken Acres and Mountain Bounty Farm