Monday, June 4, 2012

Voodoo Doughnuts Excursion


This weekend, I finally made it down to try out the Voodoo Doughnuts and see what the big deal was.  I did a little research on their website beforehand, though, so I was a little more prepared.  Basically, this is a company formed by a couple guys who wanted to do something different and fun, and came up with this concept.  Since 2008, it has been the "Official City Doughnut" of Portland, by decree of mayor Tom Potter.

The different take on traditional doughnuts are what sets it apart from other doughnut shops that you've been to.  It looks like they experiment quite a bit, and have even had a couple doughnuts shut down by the health department (one had a Nyquil glaze on it, and one was called the Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, which seems pretty self-explanatory).  They still have some strange toppings, like Tang or bacon, and some odd shapes, like one designed after the male anatomy and one rolled into a blunt.  If you're not offended easily, I do recommend looking through the list of doughnuts on the site linked above.  I found it quite entertaining, and had some fun making out my shopping list before heading down to the shop.

After reviewing the doughnuts available, I decided on 4 that I would like to try.  Their signature Bacon Maple Bar, the Voodoo Doll, the Memphis Mafia, and the Old Dirty B*****d.

Having seen the lines for the doughnut shop in previous visits to Portland, I thought I'd try to cheat the system and go to the Voodoo Doughnut Too location, figuring it wouldn't be quite as popular.  Since they are open 24 hours, I also decided to go at midnight, figuring that I'd get there before bar close and beat the crowd.  Turns out, it didn't matter...they were still packed!  When I arrived, the smell of bacon greeted me as I got into the back of the line, about 30 people in front of me.  Most of the crowd was younger, maybe in their mid-20s, and were in groups, so the line went quickly, with most people knowing what they wanted by the time they got to the register.

The decor was kind of fun, with a velvet Kenny Rogers and a bunch of T-Shirts and underwear with their slogans tacked up on the wall (and available for sale).  They had a few older pinball machines, too -- even old favorite Pin-Bot (though admittedly, I spent more time playing that one in an NES emulator than in the arcade).  While you waited, there was also a bench in the shape of a coffin.  Unfortunately, because it was so busy, I wasn't able to get any good pictures on the inside.

When my turn came up, I placed my order, but found they didn't have any Memphis Mafia available (a doughnut with banana chunks, a cinnamon-sugar mixture, covered in a glaze with peanut butter, peanuts, chocolate chips, and chocolate frosting), so I decided to try one of their cake doughnuts, and got the one topped with Butterfinger.  Since I only got four doughnuts, I didn't get one of their signature boxes, and had to settle for a white bag with "Good Things Come in Pink Boxes" stamped on it.

I took the doughnuts home, with the intention of taking a bite or two of each to test them while they were fresh, then another in the morning to see how they did overnight.

Mmmm...doughnuts.

I started with the Maple Bacon Bar.  As the name suggests, it is a long john doughnut with maple frosting, and a couple slices of bacon over the top.  It didn't sound like a very good combination to me, to be honest, but the smell at the shop put me over the top to try it out.  With low expectations, I tried it, and was pleasantly surprised.  The bacon was cooked just right, and the smokey flavor really meshed well with the maple frosting.  The doughnut itself was light and airy, but the crunchiness of the bacon gave it a great contrast.  I loved it!  The next day, the doughnut wasn't quite as light, though, so I definitely recommend eating these fresh.

Second was the Voodoo Doll.  This is a doughnut shaped like a person, with a little pretzel stake through its heart.  It also has a raspberry jam filling, to give the impression that it's bleeding.  I bit the head off, and was disappointed that it didn't start bleeding -- the jam was concentrated around the heart area, so I needed to take a few bites to get it to bleed.  The jam was good, and the doughnut was light and airy...but apart from the shape, there really wasn't anything too special about it.  The same for the next day.  The frosting had hardened a bit, and like other doughnuts, just wasn't as good unless you got a bit with the jam in it.  Again, I recommend fresh.

The Old Dirty B*****d has Oreos and peanut butter with a chocolate frosting.  The different flavors combined very well, and the Oreos gave it enough of a texture difference to set it apart.  This was a very good doughnut, and it survived very well into the next morning (and, in fact, into Monday morning).  This was one I could definitely recommend on a later date as easily as I could recommend it fresh.

Finally, the Butterfingering (their name, not mine).  It's just what you would expect...vanilla frosting with Butterfinger topping, over a chocolate cake doughnut.  The chocolate of the doughnut and vanilla of the frosting really overpowered the Butterfinger flavors, though, so the topping just served to get stuck in my teeth.  Still, the flavor was good, if plain, and being a cake doughnut gave it the advantage on subsequent days (though later days seemed to make the Butterfinger flavor even more overwhelmed, somehow).  I would recommend just getting a more generic cake doughnut, and save a few cents but get the same experience.

Speaking of money, the doughnuts I got ranged from $1.50 for the Butterfingering doughnut to $2.50 for the Voodoo doll.  So, a bit pricier than your average doughnuts, but about what I was expecting.  Overall, it was a fun experience, and something distinctly Portland.  I would recommend a visit any time you're in town, and bring some back to share with your friends back home!

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