Frank (ljtourist) wrote,

Portland donuts

I've spent quite a bit of time in Portland, OR this year. A trip to Portland is always something of a gluttonous, sinful trip for me, so they have to be planned out carefully.

One foodstuff that I think Portland does very well is donuts. Voodoo is the classic hipster donut purveyor, of course, and Blue Star is the popular newcomer in that market space, but the Portland blogs are full of locals proclaiming that infinitely better, and (not coincidentally) more classically styled, donuts are available at some other shop. To give myself a goal (and a treat), I decided to make a point of trying as many of these other places as I could on my recent excursions.

At each place, I tried 3 things, chosen to maximize the chance of comparing apples-to-apples, and to evaluate both cake and yeast donuts:
  • The coffee (medium roast, if I had a choice)
  • An old-fashioned donut
  • A jelly donut

The results:

coco donuts
Very good. Strong, and oddly almost sweet or flavored. I liked it, but I could see it being divisive.
Good, but weird. The texture was a little soft or even gooey, and there was an odd flavor note, perhaps mint.
Excellent. Flavor was also great, but this was on the purely sweet side of things, especially the glaze. Good quality jam. The donut itself was great.

Delicious Donuts
Good. A solid roast, good neutral coffee flavor, but slightly watery.
Good. Slight citrus taste. Seems to rely on the glaze for sweetness, as the body seemed under-sugared.
Excellent. Flavor was great, it was slightly less sweet/more tart than many (which is good!), but I could do with a little more glaze.

Helen Bernhard Bakery
Very good. Solid coffee, but nothing unusual.
Bad. The donut was unglazed! Not very sweet or flavorful.
Fantastic! The jam itself was the best of any of these. Wonderful flavor, both intensely sweet and tart, and there was a good amount. The glaze was very sweet, and the donut itself was pleasantly yeasty.

Heavenly Donuts
Good. A little cooked; probably better when fresh.
Very good. Mostly chewy, good flavor, and spot-on sweetness.
Good. Almost enough jam, and the donut itself was good, but it was not super flavorful on the whole.

Tonallis Donuts & Cream
Good. A nice, medium roast. Nothing exciting and nothing objectionable.
Very good. A little too sweet for me, and a little too much crunch, but still very good.
Bad. Too sweet of a jam with not enough flavor. The donut itself tasted good, but the texture was only OK.

Donut Plus
Good. It wasn't burnt. It was slightly watery and slightly bitter.
Good. The texture was wonderfully chewy and melt-in-your-mouth, but there was an odd, bad flavor to it.
Good. Dough was flavorful, but the glaze was weak. The jam was good but not great, though there was a really nice amount of it.

Annie's Donut Shop
Bad. The terrible, burnt crude of a million cliche diner scenes.
Excellent. Good flavor (a hint of something like cardamom), and the best texture of all the old-fashioneds I tried.
Awful. The worst jelly donut I've ever had. The donut itself was OK, with a good flavor, but the texture was not good, and the jam was downright disgusting.

Sesame Donuts
Good. If I liked darker roasted coffee, I'd rate this a lot higher.
Awful. Tastes like old oil.
Awful. The donut was powdered! Who does this?!? I haven't seen a powdered jelly donut in ages. theferrett talked about this in his book, The Flux, and I seriously thought we had moved past this as a society. Maybe it's a coastal thing? Anyway, the donut itself had a good texture but was flavorless, and the jelly was OK but there was not enough of it.

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