You guys already know that we are huge fans of Brenda’s French Soul Food, or more precisely, of her biscuits and beignets. Also, we’ve talked before about her much-anticipated expansion taking over the former laundromat space next door. And, while the expansion is not completed yet, Brenda’s started serving dinner a couple of weeks ago (the weekend before Mardi Gras). Originally she was going to expand her hours to serve dinner only once the whole new space was finished, but as is usually the case with construction, the works ended up taking much more time (and money) than anticipated. So she just decided to start serving dinner already, making all of her fans very happy. Or at least us. Needless to say, we had to run and try it.
On Mardi Gras I finally got the chance to meet the one and only Brenda Buenviaje, who gave me a little tour of the ongoing works in the old space, her new expanded kitchen (she loves it, especially how roomy it is), as well as the new waiting area in the front. In case you were curious, that wasn’t in the original plan, but there were these two big cabinets full of electrical counters that prevented setting any tables near them. So one ended up becoming a big blackboard for people to write their name on while waiting for a table, and the other one became a host station. Brenda clarified that she didn’t hire a host, but in fact a manager —
Scott Andrew, pictured here. With the increase in space and therefore staff, it became apparent that she needed someone to manage the place since what she actually enjoys is being in the kitchen, cooking. I think we all agree on that.
Since the place was obviously packed on Mardi Gras evening, we decided to go back the next day. As those who’ve been to Brenda’s well know, the lines can get out of control, especially on weekends, and waiting while watching people happily gorging their pancakes and poboys with the soundtrack of your rumbling stomach can be torture. So we’re happy to report that on the day we went, a weekday at 8, the place was quite busy but we didn’t have to wait. There were several tempting options in the dinner menu, but humin ended up ordering the fried chicken (pictured here) and I ordered their special that night, a chicken étouffé.
Upon seeing the obscenely good-looking biscuit that came with the chicken, I had to order one for myself too. Which means that we really didn’t have any room left for dessert, although the banana and Ghirardelli chocolate bread pudding sounded delicious. It’s also worth noting that the guy in the next table was eating a catfish poboy that wasn’t listed in the dinner menu, but it seems they accommodated his request for a lunch item (a friend who had dinner there the night before also reported that he was allowed to order a shrimp poboy from their lunch menu). We have no idea if this is something they did only during the first days, or if they’ll regularly allow people to order lunch dishes if available since people seem to be addicted to their poboys. Either way, beignets and biscuits made it into the dinner menu, so I don’t care about the rest of the changes.
One more thing: we were told their alcohol license is almost ready, and in the meantime it looks like they allow BYOB (but stay classy, people). As for the completion of the works, Brenda said that everything is 80% finished and hopefully the full space will be available by May. In case you were wondering, there will be big windows where there’s currently a wall between the two spaces, and a door connecting them, making it two restaurants in one, or Brenda’s². We can’t wait!