Blue Jay Cafe exterior. Photo via Facebook.
Brenda’s famed fried chicken. Photo: Libby Truesdell.
For years, I have wondered who and what would take over the lusterless ~BLUE JAY CAFE~ on Divisadero. The place has such great bones (love that horseshoe counter SO MUCH) and there’s even a patio out back. All it was missing was some real soul, which it’s going to be getting in spades, because the fabulous Brenda Buenviaje and her partner Libby Truesdell of ~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~ (and Libby Jane Café) will be opening ~BRENDA’S MEAT & THREE~ at the end of this year. They haven’t bought the business from the current owners, André and Jennifer Larzul, but they are now majority/part-owners of the business, and the concept is theirs.
So, let’s discuss. First, the place is going to be a classic Southern diner concept, but not limited to New Orleans—Brenda has visions beyond beignets and gumbo. Breakfast will be served, with some standard and new items, ranging from johnnycakes to a one-eyed jack (i.e., toad in the hole) inside of one of Brenda’s famed cream biscuits, with creamed gravy and “city ham steak.” She’s also working on a version of callas, a fritter you don’t see much anymore, even in New Orleans: it’s a creamy but crisp rice pudding fritter, which will be served with brown sugar and a buttermilk glaze. Whoa.
Lunchtime means blue plate specials, from red beans and fried chicken on Wednesday to an amped-up fried baloney sandwich. Bring it on.
Dinner is when the diner’s name will make the most sense: you’ll be able to choose from five or six proteins, like fried chicken (yes, Brenda’s delicious fried chicken will be in the 94117!), oxtail, fried catfish, and country ribs. And then it’s time for three sides, with up to 15 in all, like bacon fat fries, smothered green beans, mac and cheese, creamed biscuits, and some seasonal sides too. The meat and three combos will range from $18-$22. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or just trying to eat more vegetables, there will be plenty of sides for you to make a good meal. There will also be appetizers and salads. Oh, and beer and wine too.
It will be open daily, except for Tuesdays. The remodel starts Monday, with lots of cleaning, painting, and more. The hoped-for reopening will be mid-November. I’ll be (happily) giving you progress reports. As for Brenda’s Fillmore project, Brenda’s Original Po’Boys, that continues to move at a “snail’s pace,” as she put it—that’s definitely looking like 2015. 919 Divisadero St. at McAllister.