Doughnut Plant: NYC’s Decadent Doughnuts

Whenever family or friends come to visit us in New York City, they never fail to comment on the number of Dunkin Donuts locations in the city. It seems like there is one on every block – even more than the number of Starbucks coffee locations! (In fact, this article claims that by the end of last year there were 568 Dunkin Donuts stores in NYC.) But this post is not about Dunkin Donuts. It will do in a pinch if you need a quick cup of coffee, but if you want the best doughnuts, in my opinion, you must head to Doughnut Plant.

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So what makes Doughnut Plant so special? Their doughnuts are absolutely delicious, with rich, sophisticated flavors like vanilla bean, Valrhona Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Cream, and Coconut Cream. But you can also get doughnuts here that you can’t get anywhere else, like filled doughnuts that are square-shaped, with a hole in the middle. (I just can’t figure out how they do it, but they are really cool!) Or a doughnut “seed” (larger than a doughnut hole but smaller than a full-size doughnut), including one flavor called creme brulee. This one even has the melted sugar crust on top, like real creme brulee, that cracks when you bite into it, as well as a creamy custard filling. They make both light, fluffy yeast doughnuts and the denser, sweet cake doughnuts.

Here is a view of just part of their case, showing the beautiful cake doughnuts.

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And here is my personal favorite, the coconut cream yeast doughnut. In addition to the sweet shredded coconut covering the outside, the doughnut is filled with an absolutely delicious coconut cream custard.

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Where can you find these amazing doughnuts? Doughnut Plant currently has four locations in New York City. There are two in Manhattan: one at the Hotel Chelsea (220 West 23rd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues), and the other one on the Lower East Side at 379 Grand Street, between Essex and Norfolk Streets. There’s one in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood, at 245 Flatbush Avenue, and one in Long Island City, Queens, at 37-00 47th Avenue. (The photo of the shop above is of the Lower East Side location.)  There are also numerous coffee shops and other locations in the city that carry their doughnuts, if you are not near one of the Doughnut Plant shops.

Drinking Cider at Wassail

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As we were looking for something a little different to eat and drink in New York City one evening, we decided to try a place called Wassail. Located on Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Wassail describes itself as a “vegetable focused restaurant and cider bar.” It’s a cozy and comfortable restaurant, but it fills up quickly. If you plan to eat dinner at Wassail, I recommend making reservations. We sat at the bar, as we just wanted a snack and a bit to drink. We found the bartenders knowledgeable and the food delicious.

Wassail offers a variety of ciders on draft and in bottles, and the selection changes regularly. They feature a number of ciders made in New York State (and elsewhere in the United States), as well as European ciders. For those visitors who don’t enjoy cider, Wassail also offers a selection of beer and wine. As I’m less familiar with cider, I decided to order a flight so that I could sample of few different options. Wassail offers an American flight and a European flight. I tried the American flight, which on the night we visited included 3-ounce samples of Hudson Valley Farmhouse “Scrumpy” (2015), Orchard Hill “Red Label” (2014), and Oyster River “Hoboken Station” (2014). The 3 ciders were very different from each other, but all were delicious. The Hudson Valley was a young, fruit-forward cider, and very drinkable. The Orchard Hill was light and refreshing. And the Oyster River reminded me of a dry white wine, almost buttery with a finish that reminded me of a good chardonnay.

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The food menu was also intriguing – very different from other restaurants we’ve been to, with its vegetable focus. We tried the Stewed Roman Beans, with cellared vegetables, leeks, and smoked olive oil. It was rich and satisfying.

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We also tried the Roasted Turnips, with parsnips, pickled radish, and miso butter. It was another great choice, and the plating was beautiful.

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We enjoyed our visit so much, we have already been back a second time. Wassail is definitely one of our new favorites. (I’m not a huge fan of vegetables, and I’ve even enjoyed the food!)

Want to visit Wassail yourself? It’s located at 162 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Take the F train to either Second Avenue or Delancey Street, or the J, M, or Z trains to the Essex Street Station.

Dinner at Upstate, Craft Beer and Oyster Bar

Not too long ago I heard about Upstate, a craft beer and oyster bar frequented by locals in Manhattan’s East Village. Loving both craft beer and seafood, I knew we had to check it out. The restaurant is narrow and cozy. If you don’t get there early, you’ll likely have a wait, but it will definitely be worth it.

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One of the things that Upstate is known for is their Happy Hour. For $12 dollars, you can get 6 oysters and a New York craft beer. Upstate carries a variety of oysters, based on what’s fresh and available on any given day. Not all of the oysters are part of the happy hour special, but we were able to try several varieties with our beer. They were all delicious, and expertly prepared. Upstate features New York craft beers, with a beer menu that changes weekly. There’s always something new to try (and there are wine options for those who don’t love beer).

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Upstate is proud that they don’t have freezers in their kitchen, and no freezers mean that everything is fresh and the menu changes regularly to reflect what’s available and in-season. We tried the bay scallop ceviche, which was served with cherry tomatoes and microgreens. The ceviche was bright and refreshing.

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For our main course, I had the linguine with clams. The dish was rich and satisfying, with a generous portion of steamed clams and a flavorful broth. My dining partner ordered the seafood cioppino. There were large portions of fish, sea scallops, mussels, clams, and head-on shrimp, all served in a tomato broth and beautifully prepared. The broth was delicious, and we sopped it up with the accompanying bread. Both dishes came in covered stainless steel bowls, and our server removed the lids after placing our food in front of us – it made for a great presentation, and the lids then served as a depository for our empty shells.

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At the end of our meal, our server brought thin slices of whiskey cake, a moist, delicious end to our dinner. It was the perfect finish – not too sweet, but something I’d never had before. (I’d say it’s worth coming here for the whiskey cake alone!)

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Want to check out Upstate yourself? The restaurant is located at 95 E. 1st Avenue in the East Village. If traveling by subway, you can take the F train to the 2nd Avenue station, or the 4 or 6 trains to Astor Place. If your a fan of street art, keep your eyes open as you walk from the station to the restaurant, as this is an area with a variety of painted murals.

Restaurant Review: Cull & Pistol

In my previous post, I described some of the delicious things that can be found at Chelsea Market. Above all other options, my favorite place to eat at Chelsea Market has to be Cull & Pistol. The dilemma is choosing when to go. One of my favorite things on their menu is the Connecticut-style Lobster Roll. The generous chunks of lobster are warmed in lobster butter and served on a soft, toasted bun. The lobster roll is then finished with a squeeze of lemon and some kewpie mayonnaise. It’s absolutely luxurious, and one of those things that you just can’t put down. Before you realize it, the entire thing is gone! The lobster roll is served with “new bay” french fries. The fries are thin-cut shoestring fries, fried crisp and liberally seasoned. They’re a great accompaniment to the lobster roll, especially if you order one of their craft draft beers. Cull & Pistol also offers the traditional chilled Maine-style lobster roll. (The Infatuation recently named Cull & Pistol’s lobster rolls among the best in the city–so I can’t be wrong!)

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The reason why I have such a dilemma in deciding when to go to Cull & Pistol is that the Connecticut-style lobster roll is only served on the lunch menu (served from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm), and the dinner menu (served from 5:00 pm until close, on the weekend starting at 5:30). If you come in between those times, there’s no lobster roll to be had (although they do serve a cold lobster roll-style slider during happy hour).

Luckily, from 4:00 pm to 6:00pm on weekdays, there is a delicious alternative to the lobster roll–Cull & Pistol’s happy hour and raw bar menus. If you sit at the bar during happy hour, you can order raw oysters for $1 each. The bar area fills up quickly, so you have to be quick to get a spot. On our last visit, we tried two of each type of oyster available (1o varieties in all), along with two types of clams. We also ordered a half lobster, which was nicely presented. The raw bar menu changes regularly, depending on what’s fresh each day.

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So what types of oysters did we get to try this time? Beau Soleil, from Mirimichi Bay, NB; Summerside, from Malpeque Bay, PEI; Irish Point, from Hunter River, PEI; Mayflower Point, from Cape Cod Bay, MA; Pleasant Bay, from Orleans, MA; Watch Hill, from Winnapaug Pond, RI; Fishers Island, from Block Island Sound, NY; Hog Neck, from Peconic Bay, NY; Peconic Gold, also from Peconic Bay; and Penn Cove, from Sammish Bay, WA. We also had Little Neck Clams from New York, and Topneck Clams from Maine. Our bartender was knowledgeable about each variety, giving us great descriptions of the flavors and texture of each oyster.

One of the reasons why sitting at the bar is so much fun is that you can watch the oysters being shucked. These guys are experts at this, quick and precise! The oysters were clean and well-prepared.

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For those who don’t find the raw bar as appealing, there are other food options during happy hour:

  • Clam Chowder (by the cup);
  • Chowder Disco Fries (french fries covered in clam chowder, bacon and chives)–I think I’m going to have to try this at some point;
  • Steamed Mussels;
  • Pistols on Horseback (fried oysters with Serrano ham, a ramp crepe, served with smoked aioli);
  • the Maine Lobster Sliders I mentioned previously;
  • Fish Tacos; and
  • a Charred Kale Caesar Salad.

We tried the steamed mussels. I’m not normally a huge fan of mussels, but these were delicious. The broth was rich and savory, and the chorizo added a spicy, meaty bite to the dish. This is definitely a dish I will order again. (A version of this is also available on the lunch menu, served with french fries.)

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I’ve not been to the Cull & Pistol yet for dinner, but I definitely will be trying it sometime soon!