It’s three o’clock on Monday afternoon when I finally make it to The Doughnut Plant at 220 West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th avenue. All the seats are taken and there is a line up in front of the showcase. There are empty spots in doughnut display as they run out of flavours. A woman scurries back to pick another flavour because they’ve just run out of the featured peach.
Doughnut shaped cushions adorn the walls, bags of their own blend of coffee beans line the shelves. The three servers behind the counter move quickly trying to pack orders for customers as well as phone orders that are to be picked up. A woman ahead of me leaves with three dozen.
We order a Tres Leches cake doughnut and a square filled coconut cream raised doughnut. I debate whether I should also order a Valhorna chocolate doughnut, but I’ve consumed so many baked goods and desserts in my 72 hours in Manhattan. I finally decide not to, it would mean too many hours on the treadmill trying to work it off.
In 1994, Mark Israel converts a basement on the Lower East side to a bakery where he spends his nights creating his handcrafted doughnuts. His doughnuts have been on the menu at high-end food boutiques like Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s. In 2000, he opens his first location at 379 Grant Street, four years later he opens his first store in Tokyo, Japan where he now has an amazing nine locations. His second location where I am in the Chelsea Hotel, was opened in 2011.
The doughnuts are made from locally sourced organic ingredients. As well, he has flour milled to his specification.
It’s late afternoon and just the right time for a pick me up like a doughnut. A space big enough for the two of us to sit at on the window sill is freed up. We hurry over with our two precious doughnuts. I have waited months to be here and I cannot wait to savour every bite.
The Tres Leches is moist and has the taste and texture just like the cake. I eat slowly, this is so good, coffee goes down so well. The trademark square filled donut is filled with a thick and creamy coconut custard. The glaze melts onto our fingers, this raised yeast doughnut is light and has that homemade taste. We linger enjoying every bite.
I am so happy that the world has rediscovered doughnuts, good doughnuts, homespun doughnuts with inventive flavour twists. I finish my doughnut. It’s time to leave and I am sad that my time in New York is almost over, there are still so many original flavours to try. On my next visit, this will be my first stop.
Go out there folks, enjoy the doughnut revival taking place, there’s got to be a great artisan shop where you live. I’ll be out tracking down more of these. Bon appetit everyone!
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