What to Eat at Brenda's Meat & Three
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While thousands paraded downtown in the rain on Halloween, the latest restaurant in the Brenda’s French Soul Food empire made its debut in the Fillmore. Open from 8 a.m. straight through until 10 p.m., Brenda’s Meat & Three (which took over the former Blue Jay Cafe) is more ambitious than her original restaurant. Breakfast and lunch make up the bulk of the focus, with an abbreviated supper menu served starting at 5 p.m. While there is some overlap in flavors and ideas from Brenda’s French Soul Food, some of the new dishes are sure to be hits.
One item you won’t find here are Brenda’s famous beignets, but don’t worry — she’s frying up something lovely in their place. Calas are round and rice battered Creole donuts that were all but eclipsed by the post-war popularity of beignets in New Orleans; they’re described on the Meat & Three menu as a “lost” donut. They come four to an order, hot out of the fryer and dusted with an unholy amount of sugar, and you need them.
Brenda’s has the popular old-school San Francisco breakfast dish known as Hangtown Fry, an omelet with fried oysters, scallions and bacon. Meat & Three has the fluffy and gorgeous Delta Scramble, with fried oysters, shrimp and okra/tomato maque choux (diced and braised). It comes with hash or grits and toast or the cream biscuit that is another Brenda’s specialty. Also new for Meat & Three are decadent one-eyed Jack biscuits, which have a soft cooked egg inside.
Owner Brenda Buenviaje has also long been working on a po’ boy shop that’s still to come, and Meat & Three has four on the menu: The fried catfish, shrimp and oyster varieties carried at the original, and a new fried veggie po’ boy with cornmeal crusted cauliflower, okra, and yam and vegan chipotle remoulade. The latter is nothing less than a game-changer and should be ordered regardless of whether you’re vegetarian.
Supper is brief and surprisingly salad focused, with a refreshing sweet-bitter chicory and watermelon salad with sugar cane vinaigrette and a Bibb lettuce, bacon, and fried oyster affair. In the evening there is also Brenda’s classic gumbo (which comes in a “taste,” cup or bowl) and hushpuppies plus a new Natchitoches meat pie basket.
Caution: Meat & Three may be habit-forming.