Brenda’s French Soul Food

With too much time to spare and a desire to pick up from where I left off at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, I made a trip to San Francisco for brunch to delve deeper into the world of Southern cuisine. Brenda’s French Soul Food has been acknowledged as one of the best brunch spots in San Francisco by many fellow Yelpers and SF Weekly (if you consider those credible sources) so I came in with pretty high expectations. My friends and I made our orders based on online recommendations and ended up ordering their refillable watermelon tea, crawfish beignets, grillades & grits, hash on the side and catfish po’ boy.

Sweet Watermelon House Tea: This tea is extremely refreshing, which is what you would expect from a beverage derived from watermelons. I like the watermelon pulp in the tea and the lightness of the drink as a whole — I could still drink a lot of this after I was done with my meal without feeling any more bloated. It is also not too sweet which makes it a great thirst quencher.

Crawfish Beignets: I was excited to try Louisiana’s official state doughnut for the first time in my life. Beignets are usually served sweet as desserts but I decided to go for Brenda’s famous savoury beignets.

Warm cheese, crawfish and scallions oozed out of the heavily peppered beignet. I wish the stuffing to dough ratio was greater though because the filling was the best part of the beignet and the dense dough stuffed me up pretty quickly. That aside, the crawfish beignets are pretty good stuff.

Grillades & Grit: 

“Anything I could do? I could make a tea, or is that not American enough? How about some grits? What are grits anyway?”                                                                  –  Doctor Who to the American President

Exactly my thoughts. Yelpers say them grits are the bomb but this corn slash cheese porridge left me very confused. I think I will stick to rice and oatmeal porridges.

On the bright side, the spicy creole gravy that came with the beef was tasty and I love the soft and crumbly biscuit. Definitely go for the biscuit if given a choice between the biscuit and toast of your choice.

 Hash: Pretty good.

Catfish Po’ Boy: Customers get to choose between cornmeal-fried shrimp, oyster and catfish. At $9.75, this Louisiana sandwich is hardly a poor boy’s meal as its name may imply but it sure is worth every penny. The fried catfish was so delicate and flaky on the inside and the chipotle remoulade complemented the catfish very well and beats traditional tartar sauce any day. This lunch  sandwich is by far my favourite at Brenda’s!

My friend mentioned that the fish fillet sandwich at Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley is comparable to this po’ boy so it looks like I’ll be going back to Bette’s for their sandwich, and perhaps their souffle pancakes too if I have a sweet tooth that day and feel like splurging.

On my way in and out of the restaurant, I could not help but eye other customers’ meals. The brunch and lunch menu at Brenda’s looks amazing and there are at least six other items that I would try. This place is definitely worth stopping by if you happen to be within the vicinity of Civic Centre, SF, or if you are on a food adventure and are willing to do a little bit of travelling to try out some pretty great Southern food.

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