I kind of thought I might never go to Brenda’s again. Weekends at this place are usually kind of a situation. They have about thirty seats and about 5 million people who want to have brunch there on Saturday. Seriously, their yelp page has 1091 reviews. That sounds like a lot right? Especially for a place that is only open for breakfast and lunch, has been in operation just over two years, and was originally closed on the weekends. Oh, and only seats 30 people at a time. Craziness. So, yeah, I thought I’d never go there again because I don’t really do the whole waiting thing, especially not for breakfast, but on Christmas Eve a little before one’o’clock we had our names at the top of the list. And we got there just in time, check it out
Phew. Steve and I hung out on the sidewalk out front for maybe 8 minutes. During that time we noticed that the laundromat next door had been shuttered, and they had one of those building permit things in the window with Brenda’s name on it. Hmm….
We got seated one of the four-tops in the middle of the restaurant and we felt pretty relieved that we weren’t sitting at the counter. I have felt uncomfortable at Brenda’s before, but this time, even though nearly every seat in the place was occupied, I had plenty of breathing room.
I was a little worried about this visit to Brenda’s once we got inside and I started looking over the menu. It had probably been a year since I’d eaten there, and what if it wasn’t as amazing as I remembered? What if this place was all hype? I mean, there’s always a long wait at the Cheesecake Factory too, you know? But then the gumbo came
And I was like, “Nope, they got this shit locked down. This is the real thing.” See, it’s steaming, it’s hot, but not like I ate some and burned my tongue and I couldn’t enjoy food for the next day and a half. It was the perfect temperature, the perfect touch of spice with a subtle flavor of green peppers. It was smooth and velvety and the rice, OMG THE RICE. It was perfectly perfectly cooked, not at all mushy, each grain was firm but yielding. Yeah, it was great. It was kind of an afterthought order and I am so glad I made it. But it only got better from there.
Steve got the special I’d been eyeing, the andouille, crawfish and cheddar potpie. My stomach fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. It’s one of the most beautiful foodstuffs I’ve ever seen. It does not get a lot more food porn-y than that. And incredibly the taste totally lived up to the looks. The gravy inside was rich and brothy, and the intense cheesiness, the sweetness of the crawfish and the earthy spice of the sausage worked together in a way I could not have imagined. The salad that came on the side was fresh and bright and dressed with some sort of light yet creamy dill vinagrette. I had to keep myself from eating all of it. Basically, if you see this on the specials menu GET IT. For reals, just get it.
Now onto my meal. Grillades and grits. I had never had grits before I ate at Brenda’s, but they turned me into a believer. On the menu, they’re listed as cheddar cheese grits, but they’re more like butter grits with a touch of cheddar. Not that I’m complaining. I broke open my overeasy eggs and got a bit of runny yolk, a bit of grits and a bit of beef and Creole gravy on my fork, then down the hatch. Wow. Did I already say it doesn’t get much better? Because it doesn’t. Creoles dude, they know how to do it right.
Holy crap, and my biscuit! I remembered Brenda’s having pretty standard cream or whatever biscuits. They were good, but it’s not really something I get excited over. The biscuits have changed though. Now they’re like biscuit/croissant hybrids. And they’re as big as your head. Well, not really. Practically. More like as big as your fist I guess. I ate mine with butter and strawberry jam because it wasn’t rich enough for me as is I guess. Because I’m a glutton.
It makes me pretty mad to think that someone ate that for breakfast this morning. And I didn’t. I ate a tub of cottage cheese from Lee’s Deli that I was really terrified would turn out to be rotten (it was ok though).
Oh, and I forgot, Steve got a watermelon ice tea. Yum.
I just had water. I would normally get coffee, but they do some sort of New Orleans chicory coffee, which just isn’t my thing. So whatevs.
I can’t wait til they expand. If it indeed happens. I hope they can keep the quality super high if they have a larger clientele. Becaue I am really looking forward to just dropping in on a Saturday morning if I feel like it. How rad would that be?
Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk St