You would be forgiven for wondering about Trapper’s Fish Camp. Wondering what? Honestly, anything is on the table. So let’s have a generally under-informed FAQ session and iron some of these out.
Q: Is Trapper’s a chain?
A: No. It’s part of the same restaurant group as Pearl’s and Crabtown, but it is not a chain. There are no other Trapper’s Fish Camps that I know of.
Q: Is it nice?
A: Yeah. Reno Avenue isn’t quite the restaurant row it used to be and the proximity to Night Trips might worry a few of you (or excite some of you...weirdos), but Trapper’s is a well-maintained restaurant with a classic hunting lodge feel.
Q: Do I have to eat seafood? I’m a baby and I don’t like fish.
A: Yes. The restaurant won’t make you eat seafood, but I sure as heck will. I will hold you down and feed you crawfish, shrimp, scallops, fried catfish, grilled trout, you name it. Because fish is good for you and it tastes great and you need to GROW UP and eat some damn fruit of the sea already.
Q: Are you almost done with this framing device?
So here we are. All your many questions have been answered expertly by me and, yes, you’re welcome. Let’s start talking about the food already.
The Food Already
There are two places that I get tater tots: Sonic (it’s America’s Drive-In) and The Pump (it’s OKC’s Drink-In). At Sonic it’s because their tater tots are so much better their fries that I honestly don’t know why they still bother selling fries. At The Pump, it’s because of their bonkers-good smoked salt and white pepper combo they use. The seasonings are more expensive than the potatoes.
But now I will add a third spot: Trapper’s Fish Camp. (Don’t act so surprised. This is literally a review of Trapper’s. You knew they’d be back.)
The homemade Cajun tator tots ($8) are so wonderful that I almost don’t mind paying $8 for tater tots. Granted, Trapper’s is doing a lot more work than Sonic, since they’re making their own tots and not just pouring them out of a bag. Each tot is filled with a blend of andouille sausage, cheddar cheese and fresh jalapeños. If you just realized that every tater tot should come stuffed with sausage, cheese and jalapeno, you’re not alone. Then they slather it with housemade cream gravy and toss on chopped scallions. My friends and I ate these so hard that Kevin had to get replacement teeth. (Actually, that happened separately from eating at Trapper’s. Still, they were so good.)
People who say they don’t like fried cheese ($8) are lying to both you and themselves. But, much like the tots, Trapper’s is going old-school with these and breading them to order. It’s this kind of stuff—making their own cheese sticks and tater tots—that sets Trapper’s apart. I thought the fried cheese was tasty, but the real news is the “red gravy” dipping sauce. It’s a lovely spicy tomato sauce that I’d like to buy by the jar, thank you.
Shrimp on a shingle ($14) is, uh, well. It’s shrimp. Barbecued shrimp, seasoned beautifully. Served on a shingle. It’s a quirky presentation that will get a giggle at first, but when you taste that shrimp, you’ll wonder why they bother with the gimmick. This is just some tremendously well-done barbecued shrimp. They could toss it into my mouth from across the room, I don’t care. Just so long as I end up getting to eat it.
There are a few dishes you absolutely must try at a Cajun restaurant. You better get the gumbo ($4 for a cup, $6 for a bowl) and you most certainly have to get the crawfish etouffee. Otherwise, why’d you bother?
The bayou gumbo at Trapper’s is full of shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage with lots of tender rice. The broth was almost thick enough to be gravy and it was rich, warm and well-spiced. On a chilly day, a bowl of this would make for a very delicious, very affordable meal.
Crawfish etouffée is served over red beans and rice for a double-sized serving of Cajun goodness. The etouffee sauce is gorgeous, full of dark spices and butter, and the crawfish were cooked perfectly.
While an entree of etouffee is great, if you’ve got the appetite, there’s a better dish for you. The Cajun surf & turf ($27) takes Trapper’s exquisite prime rib, cooks it with blackened seasoning and then smothers it in crawfish etouffee.
I...I just...sorry, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. And I didn’t. I don’t break promises. But if I were to weep openly, it would certainly be tears of joy at the Cajun surf & turf. It’s a lot, but it’s also perfect. That prime rib is a thing of beauty to begin with, but giving the meat the absolute kind of all sauces, crawfish etouffee, is just impossible to beat.
I wish I could say the ultimate fried chicken ($17) rose to the challenge, but, c’mon. Don’t get me wrong: the chicken is great. It’s partially deboned and brined, breaded and fried to perfection. It’s really excellent chicken served with homestyle mashed potatoes and a scratch cream gravy. I ate and enjoyed it. But that Cajun surf & turf is the real deal.
Finally, the field & stream ($27) is another worthy contender for the title who is just out-punched by prime rib. Here you get a pair of mesquite-grilled quail and a gorgeous filet of rainbow trout in a gorgeous lemon-y mustard sauce.
The grilled quail are fun to eat. They’re tiny roasted birds, so you just have to pick them up and eat them like an animal. When else do you get to play giant? Just go with it.
Tasty as they are, the rainbow trout is the all-star here. Even with the whole table sharing bites, the rainbow trout was the dish I kept returning to. It was just so lovely and tender and that sauce would make shoe leather irresistible, much less a delicious piece of fish.
Truthfully, the only dish that could stand up to Cajun surf & turf was redfish Pontchartrain ($25), which is only available for a limited time. It's a blackened redfish filet served over some extra-spicy crawfish etouffee and I absolutely adored it. The heat had a great sizzle, enough to remind you it was there, but without getting too hot to take another bite. That's a tough line to walk, but they did it well.
Trapper’s Fish Camp is a little out of the way. The decor has a purposefully dated feel that I appreciate. The menu is full of wonderful dishes at very reasonable prices, especially for the quality and work that shows up on every plate coming out of the kitchen. It’s a special occasion restaurant that is just as good for any occasion and I’ll take any excuse I can get to return soon.