Ahhh, breakfast. I do heart thee. I’ve shared my love of breakfast many times on this blog so it comes as no surprise that I had to fit in a proper sit-down breakfast stop for us on our San Francisco trip. The great thing about this is that San Francisco has no shortage of awesome breakfast places. But the not-so-great thing? We didn’t exactly have enough days to try out multiple places (although I wish I had more stomachs so I could do a marathon breakfast session, rushing from place to place and eating all that I can).
So, how was this self-confessed breakfast lover supposed to pick one place to dine at? Easy.
I was instantly sold as soon as I saw that Brenda’s French Soul Food – a primarily breakfast & brunch joint that mixes Southern, Creole, and French cuisines – serves beignets. So on a glorious Friday morning, we headed to Brenda’s nice and early to get there right at open (8 a.m.) as I saw they don’t take reservations and they tend to get very busy. It seems that others had the same idea as about a dozen other people had arrived for opening. Their interior is cozy (tables are very close together) but still feels quite open, with high ceilings and some kitschy decor items.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these beignets. They offer 4 different types – plain, chocolate, apple, and crawfish. I wanted to try them all, so I opted for the Beignet Flight, a sampler of each kind. The plain, chocolate, and apple came generously dusted in powdered sugar. Make no mistake about it, folks, these are quite large. I was expecting them to be smaller, but I guess my previous beignet experiences had led me astray to believing that these would be less substantial than a full-sized doughnut.
I split each one with Mark and about halfway through I think we both regretted ordering another dish each as these were filling us up. My favourites were the plain – beautifully fried dough that was fluffy and not too sweet, and the apple – delectable cinnamon-butter filling that went so well with the dough. The chocolate one was good, but on the sweeter side so I think it would’ve been better as a dessert option, while the crawfish was a welcome savoury change for my palate. Each definitely had its own merits, but I think I’d order just the plain ones or the apple ones next time.
Mmmm… apple cinnamon beignet…
We soldiered onto our mains. Mark chose the Hangtown Fry (crispy oyster, bacon & scallion scramble), with grits and a cream biscuit. While Mark really enjoyed the grits (said they were ultra creamy) and the biscuit (super fluffy and buttery), he didn’t enjoy the scramble because of the oysters. I think it was just a personal preference thing in that he felt the oyster and omelette combination didn’t work for him, so that was unfortunate.
I chose one of their specials that day, a Banana Fosters French Toast. The toast had a hint of cinnamon, which was lovely, and whatever bread they used was amazing and the perfect choice for french toast as they were done just right (not overly soaked in egg and not underdone). The bananas foster-style syrup was nicely flavoured with a punch of rum. The vanilla cream that came with it was so decadent and delicious; I think that might’ve been my favourite part of all.
We struggled to get through our mains as their portions are huge. We clearly made a rookie mistake by ordering the beignet flight as a starter, but that’s all part of the experience. As we made our way through our meal, the rest of the tables started filling up and soon enough, the place was full. Service was quick, attentive, and friendly, and we got our food quite quickly as well.
I would love to go back to Brenda’s for more beignets, but next time I’ll be much smarter about it so that I’m not having to waddle or get rolled out of the place.
Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 345-8100