Save our donut shops!

There’s no doubt that this pandemic has brought unforeseeable changes to so many aspects of our daily lives. Seemingly overnight, our world was turned upside down. Restaurants in particular have really felt the hit brought on by shuttered doors and operating on delivery alone is proving to be not only a health risk, but virtually unsustainable.

In early Spring, the beloved Doughnut Plant closed in order to better understand how to operate safely in our new climate and in May, they slowly began to reopen their stores for delivery and pick-up. Sadly, they’ve now announced that they’ve closed once again, and now through at least August.

Owner Mark Israel took to Instagram to write a lengthy post on the difficult decision to wind down operations and the future of their stores.

“Small businesses need help and more support. Restaurants have lost more revenue and jobs than any other industry. Fixed expenses have remained the same but as we all know, business is down. NYC in particular has been hit hard: people have left and people are staying home (including tourists).  Doughnut Plant doesn’t want to be part of the problem β€” landlords and property management companies are also bearing the brunt of the pandemic. By temporarily suspending operations our goal is to have a long-term solution with our property managers, not be another “number” shuttering its doors. Later this month Congress will consider their final coronavirus response bill for 2020. We know that the federal government is in the position to provide bakeries, cafes and restaurants the support necessary to help countless businesses survive. Time is running out. Your support these past months has helped, but there is more that needs to be done. Tell Congress to support your local coffee shops, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and employees. Tell Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival.”

We stay away from politics in the Donut Club, but helping our favorite stores stay in business is beyond politics and a critical duty as connoisseurs. Learn more about the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival and, if possible, please do what you can to support these crucial businesses and jobs for countless people.

Save our donut shops!

An Ode to the Boston Creme

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Boston Creme donuts. Growing up in suburban Massachusetts, I ordered them regularly when either of my parents would take me to Dunkin’ Donuts and they’ve remained a favorite of mine for nearly thirty years. However, with the rise of craft, artisanal donuts around the city, classic flavors like the Boston Creme are often replaced with interesting combinations or new, wild flavors. So, while I do like to be adventurous and even though I prefer cake donuts to yeast, I still order this classic whenever I can.

Jason has referred to this as my “suburb order” and, for reasons mentioned above, that feels pretty spot on. It’s my go-to when we hit up Donut Delight in Connecticut or Dunkin’ when I go back to see my parents and while I definitely associate it with more casual experiences, there are spots in the city where the Boston Creme is worth your money.

Yes, a lot of the hip spots like Du’s or Doughnut Plant offer some truly remarkable treats (the later serves my current favorite), but there is still a special place in heart for the cream filled concoction. Peter Pan (in Greenpoint and pictured above) and Donut Pub (on 14th Street and Astor Place) have two of the best in the city and Doughnut Project’s version (aptly called a Manhattan Creme) is also rather remarkable. Dun-Well makes one as well, but I do think this is the one time where the vegan twist slightly harms the quality of the cream.

Trying new creations will always fuel my hunger for donuts and I love tasting all of these new varieties that pop-up over the city, but the nostalgia for a Boston Creme will always tug at my heart strings. It’s hard to give up your first love.

🍩 πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ Pride Donuts πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ 🍩

Today would’ve been the Pride Parade in New York City. However, like the rest of the world, it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Still, there are some things that just can’t be cancelled, and this is one of them because Pride is not just a parade, but a movement, a way of life, and so much more. Doughnut Plant still made their monthly special the Raspberry Pride donut so today I made sure to pick one up.

According to their website, “a Doughnut Plant tradition since 1997. Special handmade triangle shaped yeast doughnut with a fresh raspberry glaze and all-natural rainbow stripes! We first made this doughnut back in 1997, when Mark sold them at the Gay Pride Parade in front of Eureka Joe on Fifth Avenue, one of the first shops to sell our doughnuts.”

Last year, I bought every Pride donut in the Chelsea location and brought them to work to kick-off our celebration. I desperately wish I could do that again right now. Being your true self is always important not only at work, but in life as well, and nothing helps us remind ourselves of this quite like Pride. Be yourself, be proud, wear a mask, and eat a donut! Happy Pride, everyone!

North Fork Doughnut Company

It is currently a challenge to find new donut spots. While I’m so happy to have Dun-Well Doughnuts and Doughnut Plant, my forever go-tos, operating in my neighborhood, the quest for new discoveries has been stalled. So, when I saw that Sail Away Coffee was partnering with a local Long Island shop, North Fork Doughnut Company, for an incredible weekend delivery of six cans of nitro cold brew and six donuts DELIVERED, I couldn’t resist.

While working from home, Jason and I have been hunting for the best canned cold brew options since our afternoon coffee runs were immediately cancelled. Sail Away’s Nitro Cold Brew has been a big hit and it felt like a no-brainer to indulge in this new offering. Delivery options are for weekends only and orders cannot be customized, but an assortment of random donuts is never a bad thing. The six flavors included in my order were: Vanilla OG, Jelly, Salted Caramel, Cookies N Creme, Maple Bacon, White Chocolate Raspberry (although I believe they change it up each weekend).

My order arrived promptly Friday morning with a box of (still cold) canned cold brew and a giant pink box of donuts handed to me by a super friendly delivery driver. You can also track your delivery via an app so you know your ETA and can plan your day around the drop-off time.

The donuts themselves are big, yeast cakes with super sweet toppings that add the perfect balance to the chewy dough and while intense, are not overpowering in flavor. The unsweetened Nitro Cold Brew also cuts the sweetness perfectly with its bitter taste. These feel and taste like classic yeast donuts with an excellent consistency in each bite. They’re dense, but they’re not epic in size so consumption doesn’t leave you in a food coma.

I miss visiting stores and admiring the aesthetics and vibes of donut shops around New York City and beyond. I miss going to them with my friends. However, I’ve been excited to find new ways to discover and enjoy my favorite treats and hope to make more exciting orders in the future.

National Donut Day and One Year of Donut Club NYC

Dun-Well

On Thursdays, we’d get donuts. Before work from home became our consistent reality, every Thursday was donut day in the office. On my way to work, I’d stop by Doughnut Plant’s Chelsea location to grab donuts for Jason and I to share. I started off getting one of our favorites and one of the flavors of the month for us to try. We’d rate and discuss the limited edition specials and indulge in our long-time favorites. Over time, this evolved into me grabbing enough for a morning bite in addition to an afternoon pick-me-up (paired with a coffee run), plus more for Jason to take home to his family. In the Fall, Jason’s brought me incredible Apple Cider donuts from Stew Leonards which rank as an all-time favorite. Once a quarter, we’d meet before a company-wide meeting either at that Doughnut Plant location or our old school favorite, Donut Pub on 14th Street, where we’d both enjoy more of our classic obsessions (red velvet and cinnamon sugar) as well as black iced coffees. We even took things up a notch and planned a weekend where I went up to Westchester so Jason could show me MAD Donuts, his local spot and others to Danbury, CT to try local chain Donut Delight. We’d also go all out for our teams at work on holidays and special occasions, always outdoing ourselves with bigger and better orders. In fact, the last day we were in the office was Employee Appreciation Day and we managed to cater donuts from multiple sources around New York City as a thank you for our colleagues.

Dough

By now it’s clear that a craving has turned into a passion, a full blown hobby, and a new dietary lifestyle. However, even before we committed our adventures to this blog, our fondness was there and we’d both share updates on our latest weekend treats, out of state finds that we’d discover on various vacations, and share our love of supporting so many local spots. I also spent two months traveling through Australia, South Korea, and Japan and would send pictures and detailed updates to Jason along the way (Seoul wins in overall presentation and service, but Sydney wins for overall taste). So, while our infatuation for donuts was in existence long before we worked together or started writing about them here, sharing these moments with others has been a lot of fun and brought a whole new level of enjoyment to finding new favorites. I also never imagined someone else would be onboard to write a whole blog entirely dedicated to donuts!

Doughtnut Plant

Supporting community shops has always been part of the experience and it’s only grown over these past months. Since today is National Donut Day, naturally I’m participating by ordering from my favorite NYC shop and am happy to be supporting them in a time of need. However, it also means it has been a year since we’ve started Donut Club NYC. In the past, we’ve both written about our traditions growing up with donuts and now I’m excited to have this as an added part of the story. Thanks to everyone who has read this for the past year and thanks to all the donut shops for making this a never ending quest.

Score:
Donuts: 11/10

Doughnut Plant Reopens!

Memorial Day Weekend: The official start of summer time in New York City and this year, the reopening of three Doughnut Plant locations across the city! The long-time heroes, and an originator of the artisanal donut trend around town, closed down their shops back in April after operating for a few weeks under strict conditions in evolving times. Mark Israel recently told Gothamist that closing was due to the safety of their staff and customers and the time off has allowed the empire to rethink their strategies and determine new modes of operation. This includes increased sanitary precautions, new uniforms for the staff, and laundry on location to ensure they’re washed daily. Now, the legends are set to resume their position as champions of the game.

This weekend, Doughnut Plant reopened for curbside pickup and delivery only, with all ordering taking place online. A limited menu still offers tremendous variety and I’m sure that over time, they’ll change things up to bring us more classics and new creations.

On Sunday, I made the bold decision to walk from Williamsburg to the Downtown Brooklyn location so I could enjoy my favorite donuts in the city on a gorgeous day in Prospect Park. The limited cake menu consisted of Tres Leche, Wild Blueberry, Black and White, and Brooklyn Blackout. Naturally, I ordered one of each. Plus a Crème Brulee.

My order was ready by the time my roommate and I arrived so we grabbed the to-go bag and made our way to Prospect Park to socially distance and eat under a tree in full bloom. Each donut was as perfect as expected, as if no time had passed and they’d been fully operational this entire time. The Blueberry was tangy and sweet, the Tres Leches smooth, the Black and White inspiring, and the Blackout down right sensational, a wonderful representation of the borough and all its glory. Being able to enjoy them safely in an outdoor setting really was the icing on the cake.

For now, Doughnut Plant is open for business Wednesday – Sunday at their Lower East Side, Downtown Brooklyn, and Long Island City locations. I’m thrilled to have them back and excited to become a regular once again!

Dun-Well Doughnuts – Still Open!

I miss visiting donut shops. Something I took for granted even as things began to change here in New York City. Going to grab a sweet treat on a long walk didn’t seem like something that was about to vanish from my already changing routine and it’s something I miss greatly. As more and more of my local favorites shutter their doors for the foreseeable future, things are feeling a bit bleak. Yes, there are still places open for delivery and I’ve been doing my best to support places around the city, but I miss stopping by and saying hello. I miss the friendly faces and fresh aromas. So, on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I braved the outdoors and walked a few blocks to my long-time staple, Dun-Well Doughnuts.

Inside, their tables have been removed and the counter is now covered in plexiglass with a small opening for monetary transactions (I used Apple Pay to avoid all contact) and a larger one for the staff to handout the orders. With three markers designated for patrons to stand, the vibe inside was not cheery and welcoming like it had been in the past, but rather strict and anxious. The staff was obviously thrilled for customers and greeted me warmly, but it was clear everyone was trying to minimize all interactions (verbal included). I was excited to see my go-to spot, get some face time with their lovely selection, and order my usuals while the option still existed. Exotic flavors escaped the menu this weekend, but standards like Blueberry, Lemon Poppy, Maple, and French Toast still hit the spot! Options are slim and supplies are certainly limited, but if you’re in the neighborhood and adventurous enough to escape your apartment, Dun-Well’s doors are still open and their delectable vegan treats might somehow taste even better now than ever before.

It’s a tough time for New York and our food industry is taking a particularly hard hit through this crisis. My options are slim, but my passion prevails. Thank you for being open, Dun-Well. I’ll keep stopping by as long as you’re around and open for business.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

It’s hard to argue that there are better classic donut shops in all of New York City than Peter Pan’s Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint. The neighborhood landmark has been an institution long before the hipsters made their way north of Williamsburg and the iconic fixture has since become a touchstone for many and that which others will be measured against forever.


Last weekend, two friends dropped off a box of Peter Pan donuts on the front steps of my apartment building (truly the next level of friendship during a pandemic) and my roommate and I devoured them throughout the day. While all of these donuts were lovely, the red velvet holds a special place in my heart (as I’ve previously mentioned) and during a pandemic, it seemed to taste even better than I remembered. The white cardboard box was neatly tied-up with a red string, but otherwise it was plain as could be, not a single piece of branding to be seen. Their old school aesthetics carry-on beyond their shabby interior (brilliant mint greens and other pastels giving it a retro-diner charm) and their simple donuts let their taste do all the talking. No need to dazzle with looks here, these simple, glazed treats are rich in taste and perfectly sweet (best cut with a strong black coffee). The cake donuts are soft and chewy and the yeast was light, fluffy, and just a tab bit sticky. While many other shops have popped up over the years, Peter Pan’s has never felt the need to try and fit in with these chic new stores. Look to their website for further proof that they’re in no way interested in the latest trends, but rather stick to the classics they’ve been creating for decades. In a neighborhood (and city) where changes are a part of every day life, there is a solace in the everlasting glory of this crown jewel.

Moe’s Doughs

As Jason and I have said over the past few weeks, local businesses need our support more than ever and donut shops are no exclusion. While many of our favorites have had to stop operations for the time being, a few spots in the city are still open for business.

Moe’s Doughs, located in Greenpoint, is known by many for their rivalry with neighborhood legend Peter Pan, but their tasty creations are well worth a visit and since many others have struggled to stay open, it felt exciting to support a business that is not part of my usual rotation. I went big for my order and got six specialty donuts delivered to my apartment. Samoa, Salted Caramel, Rainbow Cake, Snickers, Caramel Cheesecake, and Maple Bacon rounded out the order and each was more delectable than the last. Moe’s is a classic-style donut shop with light, fluffy yeast donuts that are perfectly fried and seriously sweet cake donuts that are dense to the core. There are traditional charms here much like Peter Pan and Donut Pub, but Moe’s takes the extravagance up a notch (and the sugar levels as well) making these truly dessert donuts and not so much a breakfast pastry. The Samoa tasted like a perfect replica of the Girl Scout cookie with flakes of coconut hitting the spot, the Salted Caramel exceptionally gooey, and the crispy crunch of the Maple Bacon brought splendid texture to the mix. Every one was wonderfully fresh, sticky, and a much needed sweet relief during such chaotic times.

Scores:
Rainbow: 6/10
Caramel Cheesecake: 7/10
Salted Caramel: 8/10
Snickers: 8/10
Maple Bacon: 8/10
Samoa: 9/10

Doughnut Plant: Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed

Photo courtesy of Doughnut Plant

As Jason previously noted, the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously impacting our local donut shops. In these times, I’m taking the most extreme cautions while still doing my best to support all my favorite spots and will continue to do so until this crisis is over.

For the time being, Doughnut Plant is still open for pick-up and delivery (no dine-in options) so this week I placed an ordered for my roommate and myself while we continued to work from home. In addition to some of my usual favorites, I added one of this month’s specials to the order; a fantastic Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed available in both cake and yeast versions. Naturally, I opted for the cake and was wonderfully impressed by the chain’s latest creation. A perfectly tart sensation embodies the cake, without ever being too sweet or overpowering. As is customary with any Doughnut Plant cake donut, they go above and beyond with their batter and include key elements of the flavor throughout the cake itself. Poppy seeds are scattered not just in the glaze outside along some lemon zest, but in the treat itself giving the slightest crunch and a subtle injection of texture. It’s a light, refreshing treat, rich in flavor and satisfyingly moist.

Score: 9/10