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Dollars for donuts


SethG
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I had to visit the 7th Precinct the other day (it's at Broome and Pitt Streets, hard by the Williamsburg bridge), so I thought I'd stop at Kossar's Bialys on Grand Street and pick up a dozen. On my way there, I happened into a gourmet institution known as the Doughnut Plant.

This little storefront had signs ouside touting its organic products with real shaved fresh coconut etc... and I thought, what the heck, may as well try a good donut while I'm here. And you know what? It was a pretty good donut. A little heavier than I prefer, but my beef is not with the quality of the product sold.

My problem is with the price. This donut cost me two dollars.

I later learned from a Lower East Side local that this shop is a sensation. They have donuts selling at gourmet markets around town, and in the Grand Street store, they regularly run out of donuts in the late morning and close up shop.

What is wrong with New Yorkers? Are we insane? We will beat down the doors of an establishment selling admittedly better-than-average but hardly ambrosial donuts for two dollars each?

I can understand that one must pay more for "artisinal" products, and I regularly do so for many such products. But I gotta tell ya, when it comes to donuts there's only so much artisinal improvement can do for you. It seems to me from my donut taste test that the diminishing returns come pretty quickly. Kossar's, two doors away, delivers pure bialy satisfaction for only 50 cents. Any improvement one could make in the bialy that would make it cost a lot more would be, to my mind, unjustified.

Somebody please, flame me about my bad attitude. Call me a donut (or I should say "doughnut") philistine. But explain this ludicrous store to me in terms I can understand.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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The way I see it, there is nothing wrong with your attitude and plenty wrong with the state of affairs that enables such a business to flourish.

It's not possible to buy a decent, freshly-made doughnut in this city (NYC), presumably because making doughnuts with a reasonable amount of care with real ingredients does not sustain a large enough profit margin to pay the overhead necessary to sustain such a business here.....we can thank corporate culture with its "make everything cheaper/maximize profits" mentality. Sounds like the Doughnut Plant is maximizing profits, all right.

(And let's not bring Krispy Kreme into this....those things are shaped like doughnuts, but there the resemblance ends. Not that they aren't tasty.)

I think the only thing wrong with New Yorkers that patronize establishments like the Doughnut Plant is....um, nothing--the fault isn't theirs. Deprived of the real thing (but still craving it), they have the ability to pay for a high-priced facsimile, so they do.

That's just my take on it.

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Supply and demand. There's a demand for a donut this good and that demand come from enough people willing to pay the price. There's a limited supply of donuts this good. There aren't many people willing to make donuts this good for this price, let alone less. If anyone of us brought a donut this good to the market place and sold it for less, or brought a better donut at the same price, these guys would have to compete or go out of business. It's probably not worth it. It may not be possible, but if it is, no one is trying. In fact, as they sell out now well before the day is over, there's a market for more donuts this good at this price that no one is trying to fill.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I understand the demand is there. I'm just dumbfounded that it's there. And yeah, the finest ingredients cost money. And for all of these fine ingredients, you end up... with a pretty good donut.

We New Yorkers laugh at folks from out of town who come here and waste money on overpriced tourist theme restaurants, but I wonder if we took one of those tourists to the authentic, hip Lower East Side with us, would they eat at Doughnut Plant, or would they say "dude, that donut costs two dollars?!"

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I had to visit the 7th Precinct the other day (it's at Broome and Pitt Streets, hard by the Williamsburg bridge), so I thought I'd stop at Kossar's Bialys on Grand Street and pick up a dozen.  On my way there, I happened into a gourmet institution known as the Doughnut Plant.

This little storefront had signs ouside touting its organic products with real shaved fresh coconut etc... and I thought, what the heck, may as well try a good donut while I'm here.  And you know what?  It was a pretty good donut.  A little heavier than I prefer, but my beef is not with the quality of the product sold.

My problem is with the price.  This donut cost me two dollars.

I later learned from a Lower East Side local that this shop is a sensation.  They have donuts selling at gourmet markets around town, and in the Grand Street store, they regularly run out of donuts in the late morning and close up shop. 

What is wrong with New Yorkers?  Are we insane?  We will beat down the doors of an establishment selling admittedly better-than-average but hardly ambrosial donuts for two dollars each?

I can understand that one must pay more for "artisinal" products, and I regularly do so for many such products.  But I gotta tell ya, when it comes to donuts there's only so much artisinal improvement can do for you.  It seems to me from my donut taste test that the diminishing returns come pretty quickly.  Kossar's, two doors away, delivers pure bialy satisfaction for only 50 cents.  Any improvement one could make in the bialy that would make it cost a lot more would be, to my mind, unjustified.

Somebody please, flame me about my bad attitude.  Call me a donut (or I should say "doughnut") philistine.  But explain this ludicrous store to me in terms I can understand.

Seth I feel ya brother had the same experience I don't understand it either. The're just not that great.

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  • 1 month later...

I picked up one of their donuts at Dean& Deluca on tuesday. Before you all begin thinking I'm a wastrel, let me explain - I have a credit at D&D that I'm working my way through. It started at about $50 and I'm now down to $10.

Anyway, regarding the price. A donut is .85 at KK. The Donut Plan donut is more than twice the size of the KK donut, so on size basis, the price isn't so out of line.

As far as taste. I had a chocolate-coated donut. This donut is very different than KK. KK, when warm is like eating heated marshmellow air. This has a denser dough. More yeast I would guess. And there's a fried dough taste. What came to mind for me were the sufganiyot (isreali jelly donuts) I used to eat in Jerusalem. I assume the donut had been made early that morning. I had mine at about 2 in the afternoon. I would be curious to taste a super fresh one.

I'm not sure I would go out of my way for one of these donuts though. It was good, but didn't knock my socks off.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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$2 for a donut and people are outraged? All in a town where they will plunk down $4 for a cup of Starburnt coffee, $6 for a Coors Light and $10 for a martini?

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Does it seem inherently wrong to anyone else that donuts should be made with the "finest" ingredients? Artisan donuts?

Gimme a DD or a KK donut any day of the week. Fried sugary dough should taste like...well...fried sugary dough.

If I want fine pastry, I'll go get some. But I don't imagine that ever coming in the form of a donut.

Sherri A. Jackson
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I tried these at a coffee place in Grand Central Station and I'm pretty sure they're being shipped to my local Whole Foods in the suburbs. I'd agree, they're OK but I wouldn't go out of my way for one. I can't understand the raves this place gets. The owner got an hour's worth of free publicity on Emeril Live once (which is where I first heard of them).

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Isaac Mizrahi did a segment at the Donut Plant on his show where he created a "signature" donut - chocolate dipped with pistachios.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Does it seem inherently wrong to anyone else that donuts should be made with the "finest" ingredients?  Artisan donuts?

Gimme a DD or a KK donut any day of the week.  Fried sugary dough should taste like...well...fried sugary dough.

If I want fine pastry, I'll go get some.  But I don't imagine that ever coming in the form of a donut.

Doesn't seem wrong to me at all. If someone can take something we take for granted and bring it to a new level than I think thats a good thing.

If you can create something that someone else couldn't even imagine-well thats even better.

Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

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  • 1 year later...

I've had second thoughts about this thread a few times since I started it more than a year ago. (First of all, I'd like to point out that I do know how to spell "artisanal.")

To be clear, I never meant to say that we shouldn't expect to pay for premium ingredients. Or for artisanal, slow methods. A perfect croissant, for example, is a thing of beauty, and I'll pay whatever it costs. Same goes for cakes, chocolates, or even lemon squares. I just questioned whether the lowly donut was really worth such devotion or cost.

Anyway, I had a Doughnut Plant jelly donut the other day. These were featured last week in Florence Fabricant's column in the NY Times Dining In/Dining Out Section. The donuts have jelly inside, but it's piped all the way around the donut, which still has a hole. And the jelly is imported from Italy. The Doughnut Plant guy reportedly spent years developing them.

I was prepared to be underwhelmed, and to disapprove. (They can't find good jelly here in the U.S.A.? Wouldn't Alice Waters recommend a local, farmer's market jelly?)

But the donut rocked my world. That was a fantastic frickin' donut. The dough was delicious. It somehow managed to be most definitely fried in taste, and greasy (in the best way), but still rather light for its size and not at all soggy. Was it worth $2.40? I dunno. But I no longer believe such a price exposes New Yorkers as fools.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Seth, I'm with you man. I haven't tried Doughnut Plant yet - but I want to just to see what all the hub-bub is about. I also saw that article about the jelly doughnut and it made it sound great. Now that you've confirmed it's officially on my "list". :biggrin:

On a sort of related side-note, I had an exact same reaction as you when I tried the Peanut Butter & Co. place in the village a few years ago. I felt totally ripped. I paid close to $7 for a peanut butter sandwich with honey and banannas on stale white bread. Peanut butter was OK, but exactly the same thing you'd find in a health-food store. Just ground peanuts (and sometimes salt). Why $7?? I make a better sandwich at home for under $1. These places are just gimmicks.

~WBC

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The design of the Doughnut Plan jelly doughnut is absolutely brilliant! Anyone who spends that much time perfecting the dough/jelly ratio so that you get jelly in every bite deserves an award.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I don’t know how I missed this thread the first time around, but I know I’ve mentioned on other threads how much I love the Doughnut Plant. The one with fresh white peaches is outstanding.

Since tomorrow is the last day before Christmas hiatus, I just may swing by there on the way to work and pick some up for the rest of the crew. They’re stuck with Dunkin’ Donuts most of the time, so this should be a nice treat.

Sometimes When You Are Right, You Can Still Be Wrong. ~De La Vega

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$2 for a donut and people are outraged?  All in a town where they will plunk down $4 for a cup of Starburnt coffee, $6 for a Coors Light and $10 for a martini?

Not to mention $thousands / month on rent, or millions for an apartment. What's a donut compared to that insanity?

And the donut at least is high quality.

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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Not to mention $thousands / month on rent, or millions for an apartment.  What's a donut compared to that insanity?

And the donut at least is high quality.

Agreed.

I'll put it even more plainly than I did above. I take it all back. I'm sorry. I wish the Doughnut Plant great success.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Mark and his team actually are offering at least 2 jelly donuts: one filled with orange marmalade, and the other with regular jelly with a peanut butter outside. They're both awesome.

They are also sold at 71 Irving, if you want to get a great donut and a great cup of coffee, too.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I'll have to try these things. But $2 and up for a donut is pretty outrageous, I don't really care what's in it. It's a *donut* for chrissakes! And BTW, my take on part of this (completely and totally unscientific, not to mention utterly biased): just because a person happens to live in NY does not make him a New Yorker. I stay calm by telling myself that these people who regularly buy those blueberry bagels and $2.00 donuts are really from the mid-west. :raz: They just happen to live here.

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I was in a Bruegger's Bagels here in Syracuse last week (don't shoot the messenger - apart from grocery stores it's the only bagel option in town). I spotted a sign with the various cream cheese flavors listed on it and assumed that it was simply a lisitng of the 8 oz cream cheese tubs that were available for purchase. Why? Because the price was $2.25. The horror... the horror... it's their new price for a bagel with a schmear. Not only is this not NYC.. they don't know from a schmear in this place.

That's not a typo - $2.25 cents. $ 0.75 for the bagel and $1.50 for a really pitifully small amount of cream cheese. It almost makes a $2.00 doughnut look like a bargain :angry:

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