Inside New Brenda’s Oakland, a NOLA-Inspired French Soul Restaurant – East Bay Times

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Chef-owner Brenda Buenviajé’s foray into the East Bay was an instant and runaway success. Open since October on Broadway, Brenda’s Oakland — an offshoot of Brenda’s French Soul Food in San Francisco — has seen lines lined up for Buenviaje’s fresh, casual take on New Orleans comfort food.

In addition to dreamy okra, shrimp and grits, the restaurant, which Buenviajé owns and operates with partner Libby Truesdell, has a ton of vegetarian options — there’s even a vegan po’ boy — and an innovative menu of solos and accompaniments that allows people to try it all out without exploding.

Fancy an okra accompanied by a fried chicken drumstick and a single chocolate fondant donut? You can have that. Here is our experience during a typical weekday lunch:

THE ATMOSPHERE: Bright and lively. And it’s not just the crowd. There’s a cheerful vibe in the laid-back restaurant, which has large windows, a large Holy Trinity Farms mural, and a large side patio. After queuing—yes, it’s unavoidable at the moment—you order and pay at the counter, get your table number, and have your food delivered. Be sure to stock up on free and addictive watermelon zest pickles. They are also sold by the jar.

THE FOOD: The lunch and dinner menu includes Po’ Boys ($9.75-$15.75) featuring five meats, four seafood and three vegetarian options, hot donuts (3 for $6-$12), fried chicken combos ($11.75-$25), large plates and salads ($9.75). -$18), Big Bowls ($11.75-$18) and a bunch of sides ($3-$6.25).

The flavor-packed chicken and andouille gumbo ($11.75, bowl; $5.75, side) is an undisputed star of the menu, with its satisfying mix of okra, spicy sausage and steamed white rice. steam. We’ll also be back for Brenda’s 2-Piece Fried Chicken ($11.75), which is audibly crunchy, a little greasy, and comes with a hot pepper jelly. So pretty much perfect.

It was hard to choose from Brenda’s dozen po’ boys, but we settled on the 1/2 and 1/2 ($15.75) and were pleased with the seasoning of the shrimp and catfish , homemade chipotle remoulade and grilled and still hot French. roll. That said, if we had to pick one thing (OK, two) that we’d happily wait for again, it’s the beignets – specifically, the crayfish (3 for $12), with its spicy, gooey, incredibly delicious mix of cayenne, cheddar and shallot. Whoa man!

DO NOT MISS : The excellent range of drinks, including Sweet Watermelon Tea ($3), Coupe de Café or Espresso, Chocolate and Bitters ($6.50) and the Spicy Creole Bloody Mary ($8).

PERFECT FOR: Hearty energy meals; okra girls’ night out; thefts of donuts and mimosas; po’ boys and beers.

DETAILS: Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Monday at 4045 Broadway, Oakland;

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