Monday, November 21, 2011

Donut Cooperative – Minneapolis, MN

I had heard rumblings about this new donut shop opening up in the Seward area of Minneapolis. In fact, I had even “liked” their facebook page in hopes of finding out when they would open and maybe a menu or something handy like that. So when E-Jens messaged me about going here on a Saturday morning, I was in, for sure. …That was, until I read a post about them only having cake donuts. That didn’t bode well. I have a moral objection to cake donuts. If you haven’t heard me rant about it on this blog before, here’s the premise: If I wanted cake, I’d eat cake. I don’t want cake, I want donuts.

I message EJens back threatening him with all kinds of unkind words in this review and gave him the opportunity to reschedule once they started to make raised (aka REAL) donuts sometime in the future (for the record, raised donuts take longer to make and with the volume of people The Donut Cooperative have been seeing since they opened, they didn’t have time for people to be standing around waiting for raised donuts – that’s the reason. Fair enough.) EJens said we were still on. I also found out Captain MacGillis would be joining us – that means I couldn’t back out.

As I drove to The Donut Cooperative that morning to meet those guys, it started raining tiny ice pellets that were borderline snowflakes. No worries. Except when we got inside the place, all the tables were full and the only thing open was the picnic table outside. Hahahahaha. Seriously. It’s Minnesota – that’s what we do. We pretend it’s very European. Seeing the line grow and shrink, Captain MacGillis and I decided just to order and Let EJens fend for himself. I looked in the case for the donuts and only saw one tray of donuts. Weird. I looked in the other cases. There were caramel apples, cookies, pepperoni sammiches, and vegan sammiches (their own vegan Banh Mi), but I wasn’t in the mood for a sandwich. It was donut time. I asked if they had any other donuts. The super nice ladies told us they only had this one tray of donuts. They were cake donuts with lingonberry filling in the middle of it. Sure that sounded delicious, but I thought they’d have crazy things, like Pez-Jalapeno glazed donuts and pickle-onion donuts. These seemed tame to me. But I was there, so I thought I’d better at least try it so I’d have something to write about. I also noticed in one of the other cases there was something called Donut Bread Pudding.I’m a fair weather fan of bread pudding, so the addition of a donut could only make things better. The server said it was warm, and it made it better. I was feeling saucy (which the server cracked up used that term) and got a slice of that as well. I got a chai tea to wash it all down. They put the things on small plates and Captain MacGillis and I headed out to the picnic table to wait for EJens. Fortunately, he showed up right then and headed inside to order.

Here’s what my goodies looked like. See? Not bad, eh?

I started with the Donut Bread Pudding since I didn’t want it to get cold. I’ll also mention that it had started snowing/sleeting harder at this point, but we all chose not to acknowledge it and just powered through like it was 80 and sunny. The Donut Bread Pudding was cut into slices like slices of bread or coffee cake. It was very moist and sticky, but I didn’t have a fork, so I just went at it with my fingers. I can’t explain how awesome this was. It was like a cross between cinnamon bread and donuts and unicorn sprinkles. So amazingly delicious. I made EJens and Captain MacGillis grab chunks of it to try and they appeared to like it almost as much as I did. It is one of the best sweet desserts I’ve had in a long time and I’d go back to this place simply for the donut bread pudding, at this point.

I also noticed that EJens had some other kind of donut that I didn’t see inside on his plate. Apparently, they had brought out a tray of honey glazed donuts right after we had walked outside. Looked good, but I didn’t swipe a bite of it, even though it would have been for journalistic purposes only. Next time.

I sipped some of the chai tea I had gotten and I remembered I’m not a fan of chai tea. I’m a fan of chai tea lattes. I’m a moron. So I sulked and sipped on it, even though I wasn’t thrilled at all. Totally my fault though. It will not be reflected upon in the review, I promise.

The Lingberry filled donut was much better than I had anticipated. I really expected to blow up and begin my usual rant about cake vs. raised donuts like I usually do, but this donut was fried crispy. Something I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I quite liked it. It wasn’t soft and moist like mini donuts at the fair. It was hard and crunch on the outside and soft and moist on the inside – almost like a hush puppy or something. Quite a good donut after all, and with the lingonberry jam in the middle, it was even better. Some sugary stuff helped this thing taste even better.

At this point, it’s snowing pretty solid and the wind had picked up. We had acquired another person who couldn’t find room on the inside of the place, so we told him he could sit with us – though we couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t be offended by all of our ridiculous discussion. He was in town for a few months on work – apparently his work hates him and sends him up here (from Arizona) at the exact time it decides to blizzard. Welcome to Minnesota, friend. We assured him it wasn’t always like this and the snow piles occasionally get below twenty feet. I think we scared him ust fine:)

I know this place is new and they’re going to be working through some bugs for a while. I get it, I promise you I do. I’m very willing to cut them some slack, especially with the amazing publicity they’ve gotten and excitement over having a super fun donut place in the Twin Cities (FINALLY and THANK YOU!!!!!). But I sort of expected to see a guy using a shovel to scoop delicious donuts into cases from an infinite pile of donuts being tended by chained up rogue Keebler elves (I have really messed up dreams, can you tell?). I didn’t expect to see 12 donuts come out at a time on a tray and there only being one variety (which is the exact opposite of variety). After all, the word “Donut” is in the name of the restaurant. It should be first and foremost about donuts, not sandwiches, nor cookies, nor caramel apples – MAYBE about coffee and chai, since they kind of go hand in hand. If I went to International House of Pancakes (which I would never do) and they ran out of Pancakes, I’d probably flip my lid. But as I said, I’m VERY willing to cut these people some slack, especially based on the quality of what I was able to get this lovely Saturday morning. I know it sounds like a rant, but it truly isn’t. Just wait, when these guys get in their groove and start making raised donuts and have their cases full or horrific combinations of fun-itude, you will see all kinds of write up about this place. It will be well-deserved too. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait!!

Bottom line is, I’m still going to stand by the fact that raised donuts are exponentially better than cake donuts. And if the Donut cooperative can make raised donuts as well as they make cake donuts, I’ll consider relocating to the Seward neighborhood. As it stands now, you need to get there shortly after they open to get the best variety of options. I’ve heard of some awesome combinations they’re selling there and I’m pretty sure the facebook page they have set up usually gives some of the options for the day. They change recipes and themes every day, so you may not get the same thing twice when you go there. But I have a feeling you’re always going to be happy when you leave. Even if it’s snowing ice pellets and you slide for 75% of the hour-long drive home that usually takes 10 minutes. Still worth it.

To p5 things about The Donut Cooperative
1. Donut Bread Pudding
2. Lingonberry filled cake donut
3. Super friendly staff
4. Plenty of on street parking
5. Very adventurous with their donut flavor combinations

Bottom 5 things
1. They were out of almost all of their donuts
2. I understand you have to get there REALLY early to get the maximum selection
3. It is VERY busy here, though there is a lot of inside seating
4. The way the line flows in the ordering process; it’s hard to decide what you want until you’re standing at the register
5. I can’t wait for them to have raised donuts!!!!