I saved Brenda's for a very special occasion, one of the top 3 hungover days of the year - New Years brunch. Nothing like a fried shrimp po boy at 10:30 in the morning to get your day started!
The fact that it was even open for New Years brunch was impressive enough. The fact that we walked in at 11 and sat down at an open table was clearly god telling me, "Kelsey, 2010 will be your year."
No wonder there is always a line! This restaurant is the size of a hamster cage! Everyone says it's tiny, but to give you an idea, this breakfast hot-spot only has about 8 tables (only 2 or 3 4-tops) and around 6 stools.
What they lack in space, they certainly make up in portion sizes. If you want a meal that gives you that slight feeling of guilt at the end, you know, the "Oh my god, I can't believe I just ate ALL of that" feeling? Well, then Brenda's is the place for you! We started with 3 plain BEIGNETS - light, warm, delicious (especially topped with whatever berry jam they had on the table!). And, for an exceptionally reasonable price, only $4! I could've been done with just eating those, but my stomach was saying "Kelsey, you need to start the new year off right, by stuffing me past capacity and getting rolled out of this restaurant." Game on, stomach.
Moving on to the FRIED SHRIMP PO BOY (with a side of coleslaw instead of fries. See, I was trying to exercise some constraint!). It was just done right, exactly what I would expect - crispy shrimp, soft bread with a crunch, and a slightly spicy chipotle remoulade which really made this dish complete. They didn't do anything to make this po boy stand out from other (good) po boys I've had elsewhere, it wasn't "Brenda's take" on a po boy, it was just a solid, delicious dish. And, while I'm neither a fan of grits nor biscuits, my date's GRILLADES AND GRITS was also a solid, exactly-how-it-should-be-done dish.
Solid food. Attentive, friendly service. Worth the trek downtown and the wait? No, not really, unless you are a huge fan of soul food and are craving it. Worth trying at least once? Absolutely.
Brenda's French Soul Food
652 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94102-3328