If the afterlife serves anything like the menu at Brenda’s Meat & Three, I may have to renounce my unbelief. Brenda Buenviaje and company have transformed the former Blue Jay Café on Divis into a place where biscuits are essentially mandatory and portion control never rears its ugly head. It might be the only place in San Francisco where you can order a fried bologna sandwich.
[jump] The third of a planned four eateries by Brenda Buenviaje — the others being the original Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk Street, Libby Jane Café down the block from it, and the forthcoming Brenda’s Original Po’ Boys — Brenda’s Meat & Three expands its reach to the entire American South. New Orleans, as ever, remains the anchor.
There’s only a bit of overlap between the two restaurants; the Hangtown Fry’s oysters show up in a Delta scramble, for instance. Anyone who unfailingly orders the beignet flight at Brenda’s mother ship might want to check out the “CALAS!” here. (Calas are rice fritters with a fascinating history.) Other wins abound: a plate of ham steak with “red eye” gravy that comes with eggs, grits or hash, and toast or a cream biscuit still manages to be less than $12. And the sausage gravy that accompanied the one-eyed jack biscuits and gravy (plus a chicken-fried chicken steak) is positively transcendent, a must for dipping fries in as well.
As for that fried bologna sandwich, it’s not the most photogenic thing in the universe. (Put another way, my mediocre staging couldn’t make it look appetizing.) It’s basically Canadian bacon with pickles and pimento cheese, and, in the words of a dining companion, “you probably have to grow up with it to love it.” But I took to it immediately. Even though I was already stuffed, my Clean Plate Club membership was never in jeopardy.
Brenda’s Meat & Three, 919 Divisadero, 926-8657.