Thursday, July 09, 2009

Top Pot Donuts

2124 5th Ave
206-728-1966

An argument on Twitter about the best donut in Seattle resulted in a gauntlet being thrown down: I had to review Top Pot Donuts. I posited that Top Pot sucks; many people vehemently disagreed with me. These people are fanatic kooks. Top Pot is the Scientology of the breakfast pastry world.

My original plan was to try one of every kind they make. I didn’t realize, however, that Top Pot sells over 40 varieties of donut so I had to make do with a moderately gluttonous 16. I limited my choices to “regular” donuts. I didn’t want any of the ones with sparkles and sprinkles all over them; I was in no mood to eat the gastric equivalent of a My Little Pony doll. Having successfully obtained what I hoped was a representative cross- section of Top Pot's wares, I returned home, plopped down on the floor, and began working my way through them.

The glazed raised ring was only okay. The glaze was a little too sticky and humid; I prefer a drier glaze that crackles a little when you bite into it. The pastry itself had a good, classic donut texture, though it could have been lighter. The raspberry glazed raised ring was better, if only because the raspberry coating, with its slight tartness and occasional actual raspberry seed, was better than the regular sugar glaze. The raspberry glazed cake, by contrast, wasn’t as good: it was too heavy and greasy to be redeemed by the raspberry glaze. The raspberry old fashioned, on the other hand, was very tasty. The pastry was almost creamy, and the raspberry glaze seemed sweeter and thicker somehow than it tasted on the other donuts. Even better was the regular glazed old fashioned. Not overly sweet, the old fashioned was as creamy and cool as the raspberry version, with a tart hint of sour cream in the finish.

After the old fashioned I dragged my way through the cake donuts. These are like the fucking Battan Death March of breakfast. The plain cake was so fucking lame I couldn’t understand it: dry, crumbly, not sweet, and too dense to deserve the donut name. Only marginally better was the glazed cake, since at least it was (kinda) sweet because it was glazed. The cinnamon sugar blueberry cake donut was sugary for sure, but that doesn’t mean it was good. After all, Mountain Dew is sweet too, and I’d rather drink a pint of my own piss. The blueberry flavor easily overpowered the light dusting of cinnamon, and the pastry itself was stained an unappealing grayish- green by the berries. The cinnamon sugar cake donut (sans blueberries) was much better, lighter in texture, and sweeter, plus you could actually taste the cinnamon.

I tried to forget the misery of the cake donuts, but unfortunately the worst was not yet behind me: chocolate. The chocolate raised ring was pretty good: with a deep chocolate flavor and its heavy glaze, it tasted like somebody somehow enlarged a Cocoa Krispy. Better than the chocolate raised ring was the chocolate old fashioned; with its thick coating of glaze and a chocolate flavor so dark and rich it was like if you got in trouble with the mafia, and to punish you they threw you into a sinkhole on a deserted highway that they’d filled with chocolate syrup, and made you drink your way out. In other words it was okay.

What REALLY sucked were the chocolate glazed ring, the chocolate glazed old fashioned, and the double trouble. The chocolate glazed ring was a raised ring with a layer of chocolate glaze. The chocolate glazed old fashioned took the usually tasty old fashioned and draped it in the same chocolate glaze. The double trouble was a chocolate donut with chocolate glaze. In all three cases the chocolate glaze was waxy and tasted like they mixed Magic Shell with those weird clear crayons you get with Easter egg dying kits.

By this point eating these donuts had became a chore, baroque and fatiguing, a somnolent fugue in pastry, like a Philip Glass opera that someone had fried without using -trans fats. Still, I’m nothing if not dedicated (note: I’m not dedicated), so I soldiered on and ate the WORST of Top Pot’s wares: the plain cruller. The plain cruller was a weird and completely atrocious misstep. It sucked. It tasted like shit. Maybe I should clarify: it didn’t taste like shit per se, because it tasted more like a stale greasy piece of bread than actual shit (note: I don’t know what shit tastes like), but it didn’t taste very good. I’ve never referred to a piece of food as a “dumbass” before, but the plain cruller drove me to it.

The final stanza of this epic pastry poem concerned the filled donuts: a Bavarian crème- filled and a raspberry Bismarck. Honestly I have no idea what criteria distinguishes a Bismarck from a mere “jelly donut;” more puzzling is why you’d name a donut after a German leader, given the poor track record with German political figures in the popular imagination. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that they wanted to call this donut “the Hitler,” but unfortunately that name had already been appropriated for a method of styling pubic hair. The Bismarck was luckily quite lovely, with a light dusting of powder sugar and LOTS of raspberry jelly inside. The Bavarian crème, on the hand, was lame as fuck: while the cream itself was smooth and not excessively sweet, the pastry itself tasted stiff and the whole thing was lacquered with a slab of the same shitty chocolate veneer that disgraced the other chocolate glazed donuts. Needless to say (yet mysteriously, I’m going to say it anyway), the cream filled churros at the Salvadorean Bakery make Top Pot look like as foolish as people who eat at McDonald’s in France (note: I ate at a McDonald’s in France).

In the final analysis, was Top Pot as bad as I’ve always claimed? I’m going to swallow my pride the way your mom swallows cock and say it’s not that bad. The old fashioned series, in particular, borders on masterful. Was it as rapturously delicious as Top Pot’s brainwashed masses of supporters claim? Nope. The true benchmark of donut superiority is the regular glazed donut, and Top Pot’s just isn’t good enough. If you somehow applied the Moh’s Scale of Relative Gemstone Hardness to snacks, the ideal donut would be ranked as only slightly more dense than cotton candy. A good donut should have a dry sweet glaze that crunches lightly when you bite it, but the pastry beneath should be just slightly more substantial than a shadow. Krispy Kreme’s regular glazed is a good shorthand for this style of donut, but the true grand master of donut density is the Donut Plant in NYC. In the donut universe, the Donut Plant’s crème brulee donut, with its crunchy burnt sugar glaze, gauzy pastry, and rich crème filled center, is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, a blue supergiant which shines in UV and burns brilliantly until it blows itself apart, like Jim Morrison, if you’re the kind of douche who really thinks Jim Morrison was a tragic genius (and a donut). Top Pot, by contrast, is a brown dwarf: a sullen and unremarkable misfit which also happens to suck big time. Like your mom.

Rating: 5 glazed rings (AKA your mom’s mouth) out of 10

PS This is probably the most boring review I have ever written, so fuck you, Top Pot fans, this is your comeuppance.




PPS Here’s a rare photo of the donut aftermath, soon to be a new movie from Sony Pictures. Donut Aftermath: The Movie will star Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Professor of Donutology no one listened to until it was too late, Megan Fox as Princess Tam- Tam, and Ryan Gosling as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Megan Fox’s Thumb will be reprising her role as Quato, the mysterious Martian rebel leader, and I’ll be played by Jimmy Smits!

Top Pot Doughnuts (Belltown) on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

TekkaDon Juan said...

that creme brulee donut sounds ridic tasty. and yes, any donut purveyor worth her pastry flour should shill a crusted glaze.

Dana said...

You missed out on the only reason I go to top pot. The apple fritter thingy.

Anonymous said...

Top Pot makes cake doughnuts. What you're referring to when you say a doughnut should be slightly thicker than cotton candy are yeast doughnuts. I suggest you make your way to Krispy Kreme where you will find what you will obviously enjoy.

Surly Gourmand said...

TekkaDon,

Hear hear my friend, re: crusty glazes. Whatever happened to the regular glazed donut? It's a forgotten art.

And if you're ever in New York, stop by the Donut Plant. It is so fucking killer you'll find yourself amorously eying each donut's hole with romantic intentions, because you'll love those donuts so much you'll want to fuck the donut, get it pregnant, and have kids with it (now legal in Canada).

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Surly Gourmand said...

Deensie,

So glad to hear from you! And all this time I for some reason thought you were one of Top Pot's obsessed partisans, but it seems you're really only a fair- weather Top Potter.

Personally I thought a consummate baker such as yourself would eschew Top Pot altogether and formulate your own exotic donut flavors.

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Surly Gourmand said...

Anonymous,

I'm glad I've finally gotten to hear from a Top Pot partisan. You're mistaken if you think that I think that Krispy Kreme is the best donut ever. Kripsy Kreme isn't that great, but it's the best in Seattle, which is a goddamned shame. Yet sadly, that's the way it is.

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Anonymous said...

You are just plain wrong. The old fashioned donuts at top pot suck. They don't have enough buttermilk. Try any strip mall donut shop and you'll get a better old fashioned donut.

The maple bars are also ass. Scrape off some of the icky sweet frosting and put it on a hot dog bun, and you'll have a hard time telling the difference.

Top Pot donuts sans frosting taste like they've been over mixed, and under flavored (donuts can has flavor. its tru). It's a shame that they've tried to make it up by dipping them in horrible candy coating.

The starbucks distribution makes perfect sense. A poorly prepared base product *fixed* with copious amounts of sugar and overwhelming *flavor*. Match made in heaven.

Surly Gourmand said...

Anonymous,

Well it seems I've discovered someone who is even less enthusiastic about Top Pot than I am! I must disgaree with you re: the old fashioned donuts; I think they're pretty good.

However, I laughed my ass of at the comparison of the maple bars to hot dog buns. That's a very apt description, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone actually uses a maple bar as the bun of a chili cheese dog, a la the infamous "Luther Burger."

As for teaming with Starbucks, you nailed it: two of Seattle's most overhyped exports, together at last. If they can figure out a way to shoehorn a copy of Windows in with each coffee purchase, the trifecta of overrated bullshit will be complete.

It's such a delight to have found a fellow Top Pot hater. Happy Bastille Day to you, sir.

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

theculinaryaddict said...

Surly, I'm glad you recognized your week review. Of all people I was expecting much more gratuitous 'surlyness'especially of the sexual variety given the nature of the topic such as: glazing, holes, chocolate holes, cream filling, jelly, yeasty, cakey etc.. I'm hoping you werent taking it easy due to moderate Twitter folks.

Surly Gourmand said...

Culinary Addict,

I was overwhelmed by the possibilities, so unfortunately I wasn't able to fully capitalize on the donut's erotic qualities.

When I'm done hanging my head in shame I'll edit this post and insert more smuttiness.

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than a top pot donuts are the people that work there. Someone should remind these people that they are working in a donut shop.

kathrine said...

You don't happen to live in Ravenna do you? Down the street from me I almost ran over an entire box of Top Pot donuts in the middle of the street! Now they are just a giant pink spot in the road.

maryeats said...

I'm with you on the cruller. Fucking ill.

Surly Gourmand said...

Maryeats,

the cruller is indeed terrible. Even noted film critic/ foie gras fan Mark Caro agrees with me (name dropping rules).

Sincerely,

Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Jenifer said...

No, no, no. The Donut Plant's "tres leches" is beyond, above, and brighter than sirius.