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Oct 6, 2007 01:35 PM

Brenda's French Soul Food--Report

This morning we had breakfast at Brenda's French Soul Food, a newish place that opened for weekend breakfast just a few weeks ago, and has received some good reports here.

We started with plain beignets, which were fluffy and delicious, with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. I would definitely order these again, and would probably branch out to try the other flavors now that I've had the basic, unfilled version.

We both had egg dishes for breakfast--the Midwesterner had the andouille sausage omelet and I had the veggie omelet with corn and peppers. Eggs are served with your choice of potato hash or grits, and biscuits or toast.

Reader: do not get the toast. The biscuits are so good, there is no reason to ever get the toast here. You'll get that fluffy, warm biscuit with a pat of butter and a crock of lovely homemade strawberry jam.

The grits were very good. I've never tried grits before, and had expected them to be onomatopoetic--like a bee buzzes, I though grits would be gritty, but these were very creamy, buttery, rich and smooth. Very rich actually--I think I finished only about a quarter of the crock, but enjoyed every artery-seizing bite.

As far as the omelets, I prefer what I imagine to be the more traditional preparation--cooked in an omelet pan, ingredients added, then folded and slid out of the pan. The eggs were tasty and fluffy, with well-seasoned fillings, but the omelet itself was a bit too solidly built and cooked for me, almost like a thick egg pancake with the ingredients slapped in the middle after it hit the plate.

Overall, I thought this place was great. We paid about $40 for breakfast, with a coffee and a tea. The one downfall was the tea, actually--they serve Bigelow's English Breakfast, which is cheap and overly malty to my taste. Despite that very minor deficiency, I would definitely return to Brendas's.

Brenda's French Soul Food
652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. >almost like a thick egg pancake with the ingredients slapped in the middle after it hit the plate<

    That's a pet peeve of mine for omelets, and I hate them when they arrive that way. I always thought "French"-type omelets were the opposite of that, with the egg part cooked quickly then folded over the fillings, leaving the eggs fully cooked but still soft and a bit creamy. I guess Brenda's owners never watched Julia Child...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Mick Ruthven

      I have been searching, searching, searching for a 'real' french omelette as you describe..bummer about Brenda's ...I had high hopes!

      Any place that you have found for this elusive delicacy?

      1. re: ChowFun_derek

        >Any place that you have found for this elusive delicacy?<

        Nope. Many not as bad as described for Brenda's, but still bad in my book because they're not the way they're "supposed to be".

        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          The Fifth Floor's omelets were as you described. And their scrambled eggs were excellent as well. However, that was years ago so who know if the breakfast cook is the same. Also, you paid through the nose...

        2. re: Mick Ruthven

          Despite the word "French" in the name, Brenda's serves New Orleans cuisine.

          1. re: Mick Ruthven

            >almost like a thick egg pancake with the ingredients slapped in the middle after it hit the plate<

            When the eggs are soft, that's the quick French technique.

            Better French is whipped egg whites, yolk folded, fried in a deep pan with a lid 'til lightly browned; folded. Deep pan to accomodate the rise.

            Pretty good without the conventional additions. If you must, add grated cheese before folding - very different than the usual simple fried egg scramble, and the delicate taste is excellent. I like to salt & pepper when folding in the yolks.

            Try finding that....

          2. I ate at Brenda's for lunch yesterday with a friend and overall we had a good meal. This was my second visit.

            We shared beignets w/ apples to start - these were excellent, very fluffy and hot, with good apple filling. I think I would be just as happy with plain though.

            I had the omelet with andouille sausage and cheddar - topped with a spicy tomato relish/sauce. This was good, and served with homefries (good but not as good as the homefries at Canteen) and a biscuit. My friend had the grillades and grits, w/ scrambled eggs and a biscuit.

            My biggest complaints were the grillades and the biscuits. Friend's grits were good, tasted like fancy polenta, which is neither good or bad I guess. But I thought the grillades and the gravy tasted like a TV dinner - both the texture of the meat and the taste and consistency of the gravy were very generic/boring. Maybe it's a personal preference thing, but this is not a dish I would ever order here again.

            Meanwhile, the biscuits were too overcooked for me. Instead of being fluffy and soft, they were flaky and crisp. When I cut mine open, it split in half immediately and got flaky crumbs all over the while they had a nice flavor, and were great with the homemade jam, the texture was all wrong for me. I think that this might have been a fluke though, especially because the biscuits in the picture on the website of the restaurant look much fluffier than the ones we ate.

            I also had a sweet watermelon tea, which was good. Total bill was 26 dollars.

            Overall, I don't think Brenda's is as good as Canteen or Dottie's True Blue, but it comes close.

            Dave MP

            1. Just had breakfast at Brenda's this past Saturday after reading about it on Chowhound. Overall, I liked the place, but thought some of the dishes didn't quite work. The service was friendly, but incredibly slow. Also, the place is tiny with very few tables, so beware if there's a long line in front.

              There were three of us around 10am, and we were seated after about a 20 minute wait. We started with the beignet flight - plain, apple-filled, chocolate-filled and a crayfish/creole. My friend LOVED the crayfish beignet. I thought the chocolate-filled beignet was just "okay" - not much chocolate and very doughy in consistency. Our coffee was very good and served in a beautiful, oversized coffee cup. Two of us ordered the andouille sausage and cheddar omelet, which was again "okay" but nothing special. Not much andouille sausage or cheddar - but lots of egg. The biscuit was delicious, and the grits were fantastic! My BF had the sweet potato pancakes with walnut-maple syrup. It was quite tasty, but way too rich. He's a huge eater, but he couldn't even come close to finishing the pancakes.

              Bottom line - I'd eat here again, but maybe next time I'll go for the simple egg & meat breakfast. Or, just cut straight to the chase and have a breakfast of biscuit, grits & coffee.

              3 Replies
              1. re: kresge86

                Thanks for the update. Brenda's is on our list for April visit but for lunch. Will post something when we return.

                1. re: kresge86

                  Brenda's is always busy, and Saturdays are particularly bad. The biscuits and grits are exceptional (as well as the homemade jams, currently strawberry). I would recommend branching out to their lunch foods like the oyster po'boy or the hangtown fry rather than focusing on breakfast. The chicken caesar, while not soul food, is really good.

                  We also tried the flight of beignets when I was there last week. I still like the plain best but loved the apple-cinnamon one. The crawfish filling is delicious, but it's overpowered by cayenne. BTW you were lucky with the coffee.

                  1. re: Windy

                    Just wanted to share this photo of the beignet sampler that I tried in March. I'm with you, the plain was my favorite. Didn't like the chocolate one at all; the Granny Smith apple-cinnamon one wasn't fully cooked but the flavor was good. I liked the crawfish one very much, not too hot for me.

                    Brenda's beignets -

                2. I had the oyster poboy and a side of half cole slaw, half fries. The bread was soft and the fried oysters tender. So good! I want to go back for the crawfish beignets.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sondrac

                    Had brunch here today. And speaking as a New Orleans native, was EXTREMELY satisfied. The food was rich but extremely tasty and well-seasoned. Started off with gumbo - Miss Brenda sure as hell knows how to make a roux. The gumbo was dark and flavorful and spiced perfectly. As main dish, had grillades and grits (a dish that is quintessentially New Orleans and a surprise to see outside of the city), was extremely pleased. The grits were buttery and creamy (exactly as grits should be), and the biscuit (accompanied by homemade jam) was so damn good, I almost slapped the person at the table next to me. I definitely intend on heading back and am very excited that a New Orleans place of this caliber exists in the city.

                    1. re: alamoaesthete

                      A biscuit so good to incite violence -- damn, I need to get there soon. Thanks for the report.