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Doin' The Donut Thang: I Tore Through Tori - At Amernick, Komi, Colorado Kitchen


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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

(Sing to the tune of Polly Wolly Doodle)

Well I went for a walk
And I walked around the block
And I walked into
The doughnut shop

I pulled two doughnuts
Out of the grease
And I gave the man
A five-cent piece

He looked at the nickel
And he looked at me
And he said this nickel's
No good you see

It has a hole in the middle
And it's all the way through
I said there's a hole
In the doughnut too!

During a recent 48-hour binge, I blimped my way through the Hole-y Trinity of DC Doughnuts: Amernick, Komi and Colorado Kitchen.

Amernick offers raised versions, a cinnamon-sugar coated and a honey-glazed. These big, bad yeasty boys are a dollar each, and a well-balanced accompaniment to the outstanding, breathtaking rosemary and goat-cheese focaccia offered on weekends (the rosemary qualifies as a vegetable). Amernick's olive-pizza focaccia is a medalist for best pizza in the city as well (don't bother with the perfectly adequate slices from Vace next door when you can get this far superior item instead). But my last visit featured an extremely disappointing "cream cheese" focaccia instead of the sublime goat-cheese version. Don't confuse one with the other: the former is not worth ordering; the latter is one of the single best food items in the city. P.S. don't miss the caramels and the small almond cookies she calls "macaroons." I'm not a big fan of the chocolate-chip cookies, but the "black and white" cookies are quite good, and are delicious even straight out of your freezer where they will keep indefinitely if wrapped well.

Komi was slammed last week as you might imagine after Tom's review. I had never been before, and was surprised at just how much I liked it despite my horror at them not having valet parking. After twenty minutes, I bit the bullet and headed due east, parking on 14th and Q, before sprinting through an arctic wind back to the restaurant. I can see why people would consider Komi a poor-man's Nectar: the portions are smallish (which helps keep the prices reasonable), the place is hip and young, and it's a very real attempt at fine dining, basically an oasis in a culinary dessert (the only other restaurant I've tried in this strip is Sushi Taro which I found to be really bad). They feature homemade doughnuts as an item on the dessert menu, served with "Mexican cocoa." It's two fresh raised cinnamon-sugar doughnuts (like Amernick's, but smaller and a bit denser), served piping hot with a little tureen of warm cocoa and freshly whipped cream for dunking. This is the ultimate cure for "I've had a bad day," and even if you think you don't want doughnuts for a dessert after a full meal, I advise you to try this anyway: I simply don't see how I could have enjoyed this dessert any more than I did.

Colorado kitchen offers the only cake doughnuts of the three. A sampler platter will get you three small, hot, freshly made beauties, each with a different topping (only on the top part): one had almond bits (lending literal credence to the term "dough nuts"), one had a milk-chocolate glaze (perhaps a touch too subtle) and the third had powdered sugar. Can there be a better way to begin a weekend brunch? Well, yes: the coffee they serve is just plain bad, tasting like something you'd get at a hotel. But! Colorado Kitchen gets a big, positive recommendation from me, with so many good things to like about the cooking. Man, can this lady fry! The doughnuts? Killer. Fried chicken wings with a lemon sauce? Great (and a gutsy-but-dazzling use of zest, too). Fried catfish? As well as you could ever hope for. The catfish arrived, and my friend stuck her fork into my little tin of sauce, and immediately said, "this is the best tartar sauce I have ever had in my life." This person's last name has three letters, begins with a "C", and rhymes with "ham," so it goes without saying that she knows what she's doing. Skeptical, I then tried it too just as the waitress was arriving, and I turned to her and said, "this is the best tartar sauce I've ever had in my life." Shrimp and grits? Man, as good as it gets. How much did I like this place? I went back for dinner the next day. I could quibble about certain individual items, but I won't; instead I'll say that it qualifies as a legitimate crime against humanity that Colorado Kitchen doesn't serve alcohol. Gillian Clark is one hell of a homestyle cook, but I also saw some glimpses of real refinement, and her food screams for a decent glass of wine.

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Oooh, did you know that Komi reworked their doughnuts? They still come with this gorgeous dip of hot chocolate and whipped cream for dipping, but the doughnuts are more like beignets now and have a sweet tang of honey in the dough.

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Since Amernick's closed its doors a year ago, has anyone found similar donuts around town? When I was lucky enough to snag a few, they reminded me of the donuts my high school cafeteria used to serve.

Don't know how they compare, but sometimes (on Sundays?) 2 Amys has good ones.

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Since Amernick's closed its doors a year ago, has anyone found similar donuts around town? When I was lucky enough to snag a few, they reminded me of the donuts my high school cafeteria used to serve.

This doesn't help much, but they were serving them as dessert with Palena's Saturday lunch (back when there was one, in July.) If lunch returns, I would expect the donuts to return also.

They were absurdly awesome, by the way. The glazed and the sugar-dusted were both good, but the glazed was better.

An anti-recommendation: I was disappointed by Poste's brunch donuts, for what it's worth. Small, and too heavy.

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Don't know how they compare, but sometimes (on Sundays?) 2 Amys has good ones.

Second the 2 Amy's donuts. They were selling them for a buck 25 on Mother's Day. They are covered in granulated sugar, soft and warm when you bite into them, with a little cinnamon and what i think is apple bits inside. I've also had the greek style donuts at Komi and prefer them to the version of donuts and chocolate that they offered before.

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So what other places are doing donuts? From what I know Colorado Kitchen and 2 Amys are still doing them. Is Tabard Inn?

Cava up in Rockville does a wonderful variation called loukoumades, which are tossed in cinnamon and honey. They serve three to an order, and my wife and I struggled to finish two of them. They were lovely and freshly-made.

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Still irked that in over three years, nobody has questioned tori.

ain't that a reference to tori aimless?

Had me a trick and a kick and your message

Well you'll never gain weight from a doughnut hole

Then thought that I could decipher your message

There's no one here dear

No one at all

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If you haven't tried the doughnuts at Lyon Hall and you really like doughnuts you should, especially if they have the butterscotch one, which IMHO is the best doughnut ever.

FYI - I've seen doughnuts at Northside (which looked the same as Lyon Halls) on the weekends if you want your doughnut fix on the go or just one doughnut at a time.

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if you are ever in Greenbelt in the early hours (before 8), stop by the Sunoco near the town center (co-op area). They have classic shop style donuts, no pretense, just regular good ol' donuts . I saw them get delivered once, in the middle of the night, it was a white rattling van with no markings. Oddly thrilling and like Greenbelt - more than a bit weird.

I can't find regular no pretense donuts in DC worth eating - maaaybe Hellers.

Can't throw a rock where I'm from without hitting an independent donut shop. (That'd be, los angeles)

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I really wanted to try them at Lyon Hall last weekend but the flavors were unappealing to me (two of them had mocha and I don't like coffee flavor and another was passion fruit which didn't really appeal to me).

I recall Tabard Inn's being great, but it's been a while since I've been there.

Definitely have to give a mention to Birch and Barley. I can't remember if they rotate or stay the same, but when I went we had bacon toffee, lemon poppyseed and chocolate ganache I think. All good, but a little greasy. Not as light as some others. Of course you can also get the New Luther with the fried chicken between them too!

Curious to hear other recommendations cause I do love some donuts. Is it wrong that I'm looking forward to the Cookies N Cream donut at Krispy Kreme coming out April 27 (I pass the store and the ad every single day going to and from work in Dupont B) )

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classic shop style donuts, no pretense, just regular good ol' donuts ... I can't find regular no pretense donuts in DC worth eating - maaaybe Hellers.

The fact that DC proper doesn't have a classic shop option kills me. Sorry, but I don't want table service and The Brunch Experience to get my hands on a good apple fritter or chocolate covered cream filled (aka Bismarcks aka Berliners). I want to eat my massive box of fried dough in my car in shame like a normal human being. Krispy Kreme is pretty mediocre besides the plain glazed and Dunkin, in my experiences, has even worse (you call that an apple fritter???).

Maybe we should all start a 'donuts are the new cupcakes' meme and a shop will open up on H?

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The fact that DC proper doesn't have a classic shop option kills me.

We used to have The Fractured Prune on P at 21stish. I think it opened in 2006 and closed in 2007. Not to say that a donut shop wouldn't make it, but there's at least one that didn't.

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Re: the new Palena donut.

Had this today for the first time and I think it's another "whose burger is better: Palena or Ray's?" kind of situation in that there's a quality bar that can be exceeded in different ways and then it comes down to personal preference on style.

Description

The Palena Donut is a fairly large, perfectly round, cake-style donut. It's maybe 5 or 6 inches across and a couple of inches thick. Lightly glazed with lemon essence mixed into the glaze. Not too sweet.

Review

As expected, the donut arrived very fresh with nice texture and flavor throughout. I might have liked it to be a bit more lemony but that's a small issue. I'd order this again and enjoy it, but given its heft, you can really only eat one if you're getting other food.

It's totally a personal preference but, to me, this is kind of like comparing the hellburger (bigger, messier, delicious) to the palena burger (smaller, gourmet, as or more delicious). I enjoy both but prefer the palena burger due to it's greater mix of flavors and detailed attention to everything on the plate (and manageability.)

Flip that for the donuts in comparing this new donut entrant to the longstanding donuts at Tabard Inn, which remain my favorite donuts available in these parts. The Tabard donuts are much smaller, lighter, asymetrically shaped, served warm and pillowy. Can eat three of those with no trouble as a first brunch course.

So, big thumbs up for the new Palena donut but Tabard wins this contest for me due to style more than quality.

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On Sunday mornings only (I think) the chef at Cork Market at 14th & S will make you mini sugar donuts to order. Hot out of the kitchen, they are delicious, and small enough that you don't feel completely guilty (until you start eating the third, then the fourth, then...)

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On Sunday mornings only (I think) the chef at Cork Market at 14th & S will make you mini sugar donuts to order. Hot out of the kitchen, they are delicious, and small enough that you don't feel completely guilty (until you start eating the third, then the fourth, then...)

Ha--that's exactly the Tabard problem. Can order one...or two...or three. They're so small and light. Will definitely give Cork a try...but a few weeks from now since too many donuts.....well, you know. B)

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Well I went for a walk
And I walked around the block
And I walked into
The doughnut shop

I pulled two doughnuts
Out of the grease
And I gave the man
A five-cent piece

He looked at the nickel
And he looked at me
And he said this nickel's
No good you see

It has a hole in the middle
And it's all the way through
I said there's a hole
In the doughnut too!

During a recent 48-hour binge, I blimped my way through the Hole-y Trinity of DC Doughnuts: Amernick, Komi and Colorado Kitchen.

This thread makes me sad and wistful for donuts come and gone......

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I LOVE the mini-doughnuts that are sometimes (Sundays for sure) at the flea market at Eastern Market. They have a doughnut machine like in that kid's book (Henry Huggins?), and they make them RIGHT then.

I miss very little about western NY, but the fresh doughnuts at the orchards are right up there.

I also used to like the doughnuts you could get at Amernick, but with them not being ready until 11 or later, I rarely got them.

Hellers are pretty good.

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Is the "new" Palena doughnut the "old" Amernick's doughnut.?

I seem to recall in a haze from years ago that the doughnuts that Ann served there were really Frank's and were even made at Palena and brought up the street.

Or perhaps I'm just imagining it.

All I know is that I miss Ann Amernick's shop with a deep and abiding longing.

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Is the "new" Palena doughnut the "old" Amernick's doughnut.?

I seem to recall in a haze from years ago that the doughnuts that Ann served there were really Frank's and were even made at Palena and brought up the street.

Or perhaps I'm just imagining it.

All I know is that I miss Ann Amernick's shop with a deep and abiding longing.

I can't answer that never (tragically) having visited Amernick's or having had that donut. Separate from donuts, I did love her desserts at Palena when she was a Palena partner. As big a Palena fan as I am, I always thought the desserts a bit of a weak point between the Amernick and (now), Aggie years. I tried to detail the "new" donut's characteristics above but someone else will have to let us know whether they're the same. My guess is you could be right inasmuch as the "new" donut does seem more likely to be Chef Ruta's creation than something from either "A" pastry chef.

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Had the best donut of my life this past weekend, at Apple House in Linden, VA. Made with applesauce, still hot - unbelievable. Simple and extraordinary.

Great lagniappe at Apple House -- unlimited donut samples on the counter. If the line is long, you can get your fill even before you buy one.

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Huge fan of the cider donuts at Apple House. Always worth a drive down 66 on a Sunday in the fall. You can combine it with a stop at the surprisingly large (two barns and numerous outside tables) farmers market in the Plains that runs Sunday mornings/early afternoons throughout Spring/Summer/Fall. Last time I stopped there (can't remember what month) I picked up fresh, never frozen local chickens and fantastic fresh shelling beans. Great BBQ stand there, too, if you haven't filled up on donuts at Apple House.

Locally, has anyone tried the donuts at Pupatella? They are awesome. They're doing them every day now, I believe, and if you want to place an order you can do so with 48 hours notice. Good for if you're having people in town over the weekend.

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Has anyone tried the homemade doughnuts at Pupatella? I have not, but they're making and offering them every day now.

And, of course, as soon as I post, I read the post above mine. <_<

(Picking up my Capricciosa and Meatball in about 30 minutes - guess I'll have to throw in a doughnut. :))

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