Oakland | brenda’s french soul food

Hope everyone is having a wonderful beginning of 2020. My holidays were packed with lovely memories with friends and family that my drafts folder is full of half-finished posts. I am honestly overwhelmed as I am very excited to write about so many holiday and New Year-related things.

I will start with a food review since I have not posted one in a while. The day after Christmas is Mr Sweetie’s birthday. I took him to a birthday brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food. Brenda’s originally started in San Francisco 12 years go. I have been to that restaurant close to a dozen times at least. The new location in Oakland has just opened in October and has been highly anticipated by people on this side of the Bay Bridge.

I am glad that I read up on Brenda’s in Oakland before we went. I was planning to bring my family here the following Saturday for our yearly family holiday get-together. That would have been a terrible idea if we went! Unlike Brenda’s in San Francisco where it is a sit-down full-service restaurant, it is “order and pay first then wait to be seated” in Oakland.

My family of 11 with a super-active toddler and three impatient teenagers would not have survived waiting on the sidewalk for 20 minutes! (Or rather, us adults would not have survived their whining!)

Brenda’s is not a big space and too small for how popular it is. The line snakes around the block at times. We got an outdoor seating with heat lamps comfortably warming us up in the very cold morning.

I would say that the meal was worth the wait. When at Brenda’s the Beignet Flight ($12) is a must for me. The flight consists of four beignet flavors — original, apple with cinnamon butter, molten chocolate, and crawfish with cayenne and cheddar.

The Birthday Boy ordered the BBQ Beef Brisket with mac & cheese, cole slaw and cream biscuit ($18.75). I ordered the Hangtown Fry which is an egg scramble with fried oyster, bacon & scallions. It was served with grits and cream biscuit ($16).

Mr Sweetie enjoyed his BBQ Brisket and thought that it was very good. He also thought that the portion was small. As for my dish, I asked for bacon to be omitted and to hold the salt on the egg which the staff accommodated without any hesitation. I always end up getting the Hangtown Fry which never disappoints. The cheesy grits, though! I could eat a bucket of that by itself! Ha! Ha!

The beignets are always heavenly. My favorites are the crawfish beignet with cheddar and chocolate beignet. Molten chocolate oozes out of the hot dough while the savory cheesy crawfish is also often the crowd’s favorite. I gave the Birthday Boy first dibs on the flight. He had the chocolate and apple beignets. I would say that for the first time in years I was disappointed in the crawfish beignet. It was fishy and not cheesy enough. The plain beignet is good but cannot be compared to Cafe Du Monde or even Cafe Beignet in New Orleans. I would never stop ordering this beignet flight though.

It was such an enjoyable meal. I am glad that Brenda’s chose my neighborhood as her Oakland outpost. Chef Brenda Buenviaje hails from New Orleans,New Louisiana in a little town called Harvey. She is also Filipina, French and Sicilian.

I am glad that the line is always so long at Brenda’s because it is dangerously close to where we live. Having a meal there is a such a nice treat but definitely not for weekly indulgences. Our waist and arteries will not thank us!

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