I had that recent and rare day off during the week and when this happens I like to hit up one of those places that is seemingly difficult to get to and get in to. So I called up a friend and we decided to hit up Brenda's French Soul Food located on Polk Street in the always interesting Tenderloin district of San Francisco. They don't take reservations and the wait can be notoriously long no matter what day or time of day you go.
We got there around 11:30 am which seemed just right as they had a few open tables and we got seated right away but the place was already jumping, by noon it was packed and there was a line at the door--on a weekday. I'd heard varying degrees of goodness about this place and since I like down home cooking (done right) it seemed up my alley. Here they do Southern with a New Orleans flair. After perusing the menu I went with unsweet iced tea (yes you need to specify), a bowl of gumbo, and the BFC, which stands for Brenda's fried chicken. It's a full basket that comes with fries, cole slaw and a biscuit.
As you can see this is a pretty hearty portion so that is definitely a plus for me. I had wanted to start with the gumbo first but they brought all the food at the same time. I decided to overlook this faux pas mainly because I was hungry and the gumbo turned out to be quite tasty. It was a hearty brown stock loaded with plenty of sausage, chicken and okra and I liked they way the put the rice on top and it wasn't already mixed in as sometimes it can get mushy but this was spot on. This is not a spicy gumbo (if you want spicy you can always add it) so don't worry about that, it is well seasoned and the meat is tender and delicious.
The BFC is decent. The chicken is battered and deep fried so it was juicy and fresh out of the fryer. It looked like there was some paprika and other spices in the coating but I can't say they really added or detracted from the taste, it's good chicken, not spectacular but good. The french fries were just eh...they weren't seasoned at all and were not just out of the fryer, they were only lukewarm, I've definitely had better at many other places. The cole slaw was a highlight though, it had just a touch of mayo and vinegar with salt pepper and shredded crunchy cabbage and carrots, I really enjoyed it, Cathead BBQ should call Brenda and get the recipe.
The star of the whole meal for me however, was the biscuit, it is one of if not the best I've had in this city. It was large, fluffy, flaky and dense all at the same time and the butter I put on it just made it even better. I could see ordering a dozen of these to go and be perfectly happy. They should really think about using it like a bun and putting a boneless chicken breast on it to make a sandwich--that would be really good, but hey I'm just a eater.
There looked like a lot of tasty things on the menu and a number of plates I saw come out of the kitchen made me want to come back and give other items a try--if that is I can put up with the wait and the sometimes spotty service. But as with a lot of things good food wins out every time. And always get a biscuit!!