Brenda’s French Soul Food

Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk St. (@ Eddy)
Closed Sundays

Beignets, grits, grillades…what is all that? Knowing a few share of southerners and one New Orleans native, I decided to take TBJ to check out what all the fuss was about with Brenda’s. I needed someone along who could do an authenticity check on this grub. What intrigued me about Brenda’s was that they say no entree is more than $10 there. Better not be for breakfast, ok??

Apparently there’s an East side and West side to New Orleans. So during the aftermath of the hurricane, the bridge you heard about that residents were trying to cross connected the two sides. Well, the East side residents were the ones in the lowlands. (Why is it always the East side that gets a bad rap??) The West side is a slight bit yuppier apparently. TBJ is from the West side of the tracks, shall we say, and apparently so is Brenda. But folks still eat the same food, so we went at it.

We ordered:
* The Beignet sample platter (1 plain, 1 chocolate filled, 1 apple filled) – $8.00
* I had grillades & grits, which is basically beef and gravy in the morning with grits, eggs, and biscuits. yum. – $9.75
* TBJ had the egg & bacon tartine, a toasted French roll with the eggs and bacon in it with some yummy relish – $8.00

Was the food good? Yes. How were the portions? Just right. I was full and my plate was 99% cleared. How authentic was it? This is were TBJ began his musings and I note them below, in no particular order:

* The menu is indeed fusion-y Louisiana soul food.
* Grillades are actually pretty legit (TBJ’s momma was surprised to hear this made it on the menu). Unfortunately, I hoarded all the grillades so TBJ couldn’t verify the authenticity of the taste.
* Beignets? About 60% the size of the real deal. Sure, factor in the lower cost of living in New Orleans, but a couple authentically-sized ones out there, plus coffee, sets you back $2-4. “Otherwise, not bad,” he observed.

The one other thing to note? I thought we narrowly escaped a kitchen explosion. My buddy Francisco reassures me “it happens.” But I’ve been to a lot of dive establishments…and though many unseen things could cause me more harm, this was the first time that I actually witnessed a near gas explosion. (“It happens.”)

As we were finishing our meal, we heard a loud, deep boom, and the floor shook. I looked into the kitchen and saw some guy nonchalantly say, “I think my eyebrows are gone.” (The rest of the staff chuckle.) Apparently he was opening a second oven door to light a pilot light and there was a lot of gas around. “I just thought someone dropped a 50-lb bag of flour,” TBJ cracked.

Shouldn’t all things gassy be lit by the time we’re arriving? (“It happens.”) Hmph. But shouldn’t they…??? (“It happens.”) Alright. Get yourself out there for some legit food at a more reasonable price than something like Elite Cafe. Not 100% grub pricing but good ingredients and a breakfast that’s different from your usual NorCal fare should put your tummy in a happy place.

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