As most of you know by now, besides coffee, sweet food and treats hold a very dear place in my heart. Cupcakes, pies, cakes, ice cream, cookies, brownies…everything. I love it all. I’m sure that this love stems from a long line of baking and cooking talent than runs in my family. Before I was born, my grandfather owned and ran a bakery back in North Carolina. In addition to selling everything that I mentioned above. he also (from what I hear) made some of the absolute best doughnuts around. Piping hot, flavors bursting in your mouth at every bite and always fresh are some of the words that family members and friends use to describe their experience at my grandfather’s bakery. To this day, I truly wish that I could experience it. I’m sure I’d be writing a Crawl on it!
In addition to loving anything with large quantities of butter and sugar, and the slightest touch of personal nostalgia attached to it, I decided to try out Chelsea’s new doughnut shop, Doughnut Plant. Although new to the neighborhood, Doughnut Plant also has a location on the Lower East Side which I have had the extreme pleasure in trying a few years back. Truly amazing. Amazing! Deciding to explore this new location on 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, it was clear that what I was about to taste would be no exception. The outside of the doughnut shop already showed me that I would be in for something wonderful. The black and white tiled entrance, the sandwich board sign calling out the day’s specials (today was an interesting-sounding Green Tea Doughnut which I did not brave myself enough up to try), and the beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows giving me a sneak peek into the fabulous shop inside. Walking inside it’s clear that the theme of a “doughnut plant” is carried through well. Wrought iron lamps hanging from the ceiling, a beautifully designed iron bar and just an all around industrial look give this place that plant/factory feel. Although it may not sound all that welcoming and comfortable, the smells and the tastes of the round (and square!) delicacies more than made up for any lack of comfort. Another theme carried throughout the store incredibly well (obviously) is that of the shape of the doughnut. From the traditional round shape to the more modern square, they are found throughout. From the wall pillows to the roped-off line stands to even the seats and booths, they were everywhere. The booths in particular were of utmost interest to me. It looked as if the initial bench was constructed of cement, overlaid with painted and glazed ceramic doughnut shapes (check out the picture on the left). Honestly, the decoration and clear thought that went into the design of Doughnut Plant was outstanding.
Now, onto the food!! It was incredibly difficult for me to refrain from ordering one of every last doughnut on the menu, but because I don’t have 25 hours in the day to workout at the gym to make up for it, I had to hold back. Sadly. The thing with the Doughnut Plant that you may or may not know is that their menu of available flavors can change daily. One day your favorite flavor will be there (or sold out) and another day it just might not have been on the docket. Because I had been there before, I did have a favorite: the Carrot Cake Doughnut. I mean, do I need to say more than that? Carrot cake batter, a ring of cream cheese icing piped throughout and drizzled in a light sugary syrup are the makings of this fabulous little treat. Unfortunately for me, they were already sold out. But lucky for me on the other hand, I like everything with butter and sugar (remember?) so I was easily able to substitute it for another. Today’s flavor happened to be a Vanilla Bean. You’re probably asking why I would pick such a plain flavor. Well I wanted to be able to focus on the craftsmanship of the “original” so that I could better judge the others at a later time. I definitely was not disappointed. Tasting what I would only be able to imagine my grandfather’s tasting like, the Vanilla Bean was just the right amount of sugary and cakey dough smothered in icing. Smothered. And, to be honest because I can’t lie to my readers, I went up for seconds. That’s right. Seconds. And what, do you ask, I went for? Well, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnut. This was square-shaped, peanut butter dough, covered in bite-size peanuts and piped full of jelly. Ummm, amazing. Do I really need to say more about it? And because this is technically The Coffee Crawl, I did have coffee, although this really should focus on the out-of-this-world doughnuts. The coffee unfortunately was a bit burnt tasting and not very hot. It was a little disappointing, but mainly because when I think doughnuts I also think coffee. What sounds better than a fresh-from-the-oven doughnut and a bold, fresh cup of coffee?
Despite that slight negative remark, Doughnut Plant was fantastic. From the moment I walked through its front doors I remembered what I once loved about its Lower East Side location. I also was able to try to catch a bit of the nostalgia in thinking about my grandfather’s bakery. In one respect I was sorry that I was never able to experience it, but in another it’s great that a place like this exists in Manhattan.