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REVIEW w/ pics: Brunch at Brenda's French Soul Food

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For my trip to San Francisco, I got a tip about Brenda's French Soul Food from friend who told me that Brenda's was owned by a Filipina American Chef. Since I'm always up for supporting Pinoy-Owned Businesses, I knew that French Soul food was definitely on the menu for that weekend. Another tip I was given was to get to Brenda's early because lines were going to be pretty crazy. So when I arrived, the first thing I did was put my name on the chalkboard.

After taking a good look at the long narrow restaurant space, it was quite obvious why there could be a long wait. Space was at a minimum. Luckily, as a party of 1, I was able to jump over larger parties and even a couple of parties of 2. They mean it when they say that your whole party better be there or else, it's on to the next name on the list. When I sat down, I first enjoyed a glass of Sweet Watermelon House Tea. That drink was really refreshing. I actually asked for a to go cup after my brunch so that I wouldn't waste a drop.

Finally, I put my food order in and the first thing to arrive was the Chicken, Sausage and Okra Gumbo. The soup was chock full of all the ingredients that I just listed; however, it lacked a depth of flavor. There was a little bit of heat at the tip of your tongue, but then it dissipated as you swallowed the spoonful of soup. It was lacking something.

Brenda's is known for their beignets and being in a savory mood, I went for the Crawfish Beignet spiced with cayenne, scallions and cheddar. One thing I didn't know was that all the beignets came in an order of 3. If I knew that, I would have just gotten the Beignet Flight, which included a sampling of all 4 beignets. Instead, three good size Crawfish Beignets arrived at my table to my rounded eyes.

Unfortunately, I could only finish one of them, but I really enjoyed it. The beignet itself was soft and airy and I liked the dusting of cayenne/chili pepper on the surface of the bread. As for the filling, I would have liked a little more crawfish, but the cheese, the scallions and the seasoning was spot on.

My brunch entree was a special for the day and was a Creole Seafood Fritatta with crawfish, shrimp, andouille sausage, cheddar and scallions with grits. The fritatta was really delicious, but what I remembered more than the fritatta were the grits. I haven't had too many experiences with grits, but if they all tasted like the grits at Brenda's, it's something I'd definitely be on the lookout for it more. It was rich, creamy and buttery. So rich that eating the entire bowl would have been impossible, but I still made a pretty good dent into it.

I'm really glad that I paid a visit to Brenda's. The ambiance was lively and vibrant and the food was the same way. Brenda's was definitely a foreshadowing for the rest of my food journey in San Francisco because my other two restaurant visits were also pretty fantastic.

Brenda's French Soul Food
652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 345-8100

To see my complete with photos, go to:

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

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  1. TI really like Brenda's, but the raw cayenne pepper on those beignets sure is intense, and makes them hard to eat. Does anyone like eating that much raw powdered spice?

    2 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      I actually thought the cayenne pepper was just perfect, but then I do like my food on the spicier side.

      1. re: pleasurepalate

        I admit I'm not much for spicier food, but my criticism is more so to using the spice raw like it's a sugar coating. If they put that much sugar it would even be overkill. I just found myself dusting off the cayenne and still feeling like I was eating spoonfuls of it.

        The beignets are still good, just beware of that first bite.

    2. Nice report and it's good to see such great photos! ......

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordon wing

        Thanks, I'm glad you liked my post and the photos. :)

      2. Glad you got to try Brenda's shrimp and grits and beignets. The biscuits are perfect too.

        I hadn't realized Brenda was Filipina. She is a great cook. A visiting friend enjoyed dinner there. I haven't been there since they expanded their hours.