It’s official — ”Frasier” is taking its tossed salads and scrambled eggs out of town. As Kelsey Grammar revealed to New York Live, the long-planned revival of the classic NBC series to air on the Paramount+ network will find the radio psychiatrist in another city, starting his life over yet again. That means there will be no Cafe Nervosa, the regular haunt of the Crane brothers (unless, of course, it has franchised out), and Frasier won’t have to fret about scoring a prime table at fictional French restaurant Chez Henri.
Locals know the show’s depictions barely resembled Seattle at all, of course, from the impossible view of the Space Needle at Frasier’s condo to the seemingly endless array of fancy dress-code restaurants that were booked solid for months (there was only one episode actually filmed in the city proper: the 100th). However, the massively successful “Frasier” had a strong pop cultural pull in the ‘90s, and the characters’ culinary preferences played a large role in shaping the national imagination about the Emerald City, even if the suits and snobbery seemed so out of place.
As such, there may be a missed opportunity in having Frasier pack up his bags and leave for another metropolis — likely Chicago, based on the original series finale that found the titular character flying to the Windy City for his girlfriend Charlotte, who moved there. After all, the coffee culture here is more robust than ever, and Cafe Nervosa could be reimagined as a hipper specialty coffee haunt that values single-origin roasts crafted to perfection, while still mindful of inclusivity (likely in sharp contrast to the snooty Crane brothers). Also, how might Frasier’s fellow radio colleague, critic Gil Chesterton of the show “Restaurant Beat,” have adjusted to the massive changes in the city’s dining scene, particularly during the pandemic? And would Niles have been into Canlis’s fast-casual experiments, or tried a takeout Gibson?
Fans will never know the answers to these questions, but they can still reminisce about the notable restaurant moments from the series’s heyday. Here are some favorites, along with the current day Seattle IRL counterparts that could have been reboot-worthy.
Season 1, episode 3: the Cranes go to the Timber Mill
After reservations at Le Cigare Volant fall through, Frasier and Niles agree to try their dad Martin’s favorite steakhouse, the Timber Mill. The staff cut the Crane brothers’ ties to try to loosen them up, but they can’t help but insult Martin and his more down-to-earth tastes with their haughtiness, and he ends up leaving in a huff. Chastened, the brothers gamely attempt to eat some “fixins,” only to turn up their noses once again.
Season 2, episode 8: Frasier gets involved in family restaurant squabble
While out on a date at French restaurant Degas, Frasier overhears a squabble involving the chef-owner and his daughter, who’s unexpectedly pregnant. Naturally, the owner’s wife recognizes the radio psychiatrist from, er, voice, and asks him to intercede in the family drama. Frasier resolves the issue while outing a busboy as the daughter’s secret lover.
Possible current-day counterpart: There aren’t too many argumentative families running French restaurants, but Marmite in Chophouse Row has somewhat of the rustic vibe depicted here and a married couple running the show.
Season 2, episode 23: The Crane brothers decide to run a restaurant
When Frasier learns that Orsini’s, the “oldest restaurant in Seattle,” is about to shutter for good, he decides to step in to buy the place with Niles and revamp it. Hilarity ensues, as the Cranes are both predictably incompetent and insufferable as restaurateurs. Opening night for the reimagined dining icon does not go well.
Possible current-day counterpart: Though its title is up for some debate, Merchant’s Cafe and Saloon lays claim to being Seattle’s “oldest restaurant.” And the fact that it was purchased by a private equity firm is somewhat Crane-like in the potential for disaster.
Season 4, episode 24: Frasier dines alone
Frasier snags a reservation at San Gennaro for Roz’s birthday, but she can’t make it, so he decides to go solo. Despite his determination to have a pleasant evening without any company, the restaurant staff and guests make the experience as awkward as possible, with one kid even coming up to him asking why no one’s sitting with him.
Possible current-day counterpart: Given that San Gennaro appears to be an upscale Italian restaurant, we would bank on pricey tasting menu spot Altura on Capitol Hill being up Frasier’s alley, with a dining room where solo diners may be a bit on display (although just sitting at the bar is always an option).
Season 11, episode 8: Niles has nervous breakdown Cafe Nervosa
There are plenty of memorable moments at the Cranes’ regular coffee shop hang, but seeing Niles lose it in the wake of a murder investigation involving his ex-wife Maris was a rare showstopper. As he describes sleepless nights and how much he’s feeling the heat, Frasier’s younger brother starts stripping down and is soon naked in one of the cafe’s booths reading a newspaper.
Possible current-day counterpart: Cafe Nervosa was reportedly based on the Elliott Bay Cafe housed in Elliott Bay Book Company, a place no longer around. Frasier also once mentioned the shop was located on 3rd Avenue and Pike Street downtown, right in the heart of downtown. The closest geographical approximation that may suit the Cranes could be Anchorhead Coffee, a few blocks away, or Mr. West, which serves wine as well.