The Donut Report

By Gary Pey, TGS Neighbor at Large.

Cue the Channel 4 News intro music. I have completed my assessment of the state of donuts on the Southside , and it is good! And just in time for the "real donut season" when baggy sweaters and bulge hiding flannel shirts are de rigor, and cider and hot coffee tastes great.
Let me begin with a little history for those new to the Southside. It used to be that there were ethnic bakeries every where in the city, German,French,Hungarian, Italian, Jewish, you name it, we had it. Then came the grocery stores with their sliced bread and Sara Lee coffee cakes and bakeries every where declined and went out of business. There were and are holdouts and upstarts, but not like the old days. I believe in the 1920s donuts became more and more popular. They were very popular during the Depression. Donut shops have hung on in some numbers in the city, and luckily for us there are many on the Southside. Bakeries usually don't have donuts, they have baked goods, hence the name. Donuts are deep fried, then iced,dusted, or filled or both. I know there are plain ones, but I don't no any one who has eaten one. They are not health food. They are delicious. Donuts are hard to find in West and South County, where the populace seems to love to gnaw and chew (and chew and chew) on bagels and such. They might find some Little Debbie Donut Gems at Schnucks or even some so called donuts in the bakery section, but they are donuts in name only. Missing is the ambiance that comes with going to the donut place where they are actually made.

Pastries: Let's get this out of the way. There is only one place on the Southside to get good pastries like Danish, canneloni, coffee cakes,etc. and that is Missouri Baking Company on the Hill. Fugetaboutit! It's the best. Second place is the pastry shop at Soulard, small selection but great stuff. Third would be Companion Baking Company on Gustine. Limited selection, and the selection tends towards the health food end at that. Last is Schnucks , but at least they're open late and you can pay with a check. Black Bear is strictly health food. The Bread Company is a national chain now and doesn't count as local, they do have pastries, but I find them on the chewy side and way overpriced.

There are only a few losers in this category, so I'll deal with the best first.

O'Fashion Donuts on Southwest. Probably the most embarrassing place I visited, since I was greeted with "Hey ! I haven't seen you in here in a long time!" I hate it when I'm recognized as a ex- regular, I feel like such a traitor. Truth is, I don't go that way to work anymore. This place is called Tyler Donuts in my family due to an unfortunate incident involving the birth of my third child, a long story for some other time. Gene has retired, and his son has taken over making the doughnuts. I call them doughnuts because you can really taste the yeast in glazed ones. Try the cinnamon twists and the cream cheese filled. Excellent. Cake donuts are pedestrian. Price is reasonable. Has that donut shop smell and good ambiance.

World's Fair Donuts at Shaw and Southwest (or is it Vandeventer?). I have these almost every Sunday after church at St. Margaret's. I find them so-so, but I've heard that the cinnamon donuts are fantastic if you hit it while they are still warm. Good price, usual selection. Plenty of ambiance.

Eddies on Kingshighway near McD's. The new place. Their cheaper donuts taste like World's Fair , but they have some premium ones ($1.00 or more each) that are outstanding. Try the filled ones. I also like the ones that are foot shaped, just because they are foot shaped.Some people probably won't like the banter they provide, since they might be buying these before they have had their morning coffee, but I find it amusing. Doesn't have any ambiance yet, it needs to be broke in for about fifty years first.

Donut Drive-in Donuts on Watson near Lansdowne. There used to be another one on Hampton and Southwest, but this is the original. Everything is good here. The filled ones seem to be super plumped so watch out or you'll wear some of it to work. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the regular selection, although I noticed that the you could not possibly get another sprinkle on the sprinkled donuts. It is usually crowded, but it moves fast. About the same ambiance as O'Fashion. Same prices as the others.

St.Louis Hills Donuts on Hampton, next to the BP station near Loughborough. Best ambiance, this could only be a donut place on the Southside. If it was in the county it would have been declared blighted and turned into a Payless shoe store by now. It had the best glazed I've tasted, really yeasty. Ask if they have any warm ones. Small selection, although they did have some Danish. Regular price.

California Donuts on Jefferson. R.I.P. Does anyone know what happened to them? Besides having good donuts, I loved the way they had a screen door for the entrance that had a satisfying jingle and slamming sound when you came in. I liked the kindly old black couple that ran the place. She would always say something that would encourage me like "Why don't you buy two more, that would only be six!"

Other Places:
Schnucks has pastries and donuts. The best thing is that you can pay for them with a check, debit card, or credit card, and get other groceries as well. I think the pastries are over iced and the donuts are heavy. Not bad in a pinch though. The musack kills any thought of ambiance, and just makes me want to shop faster and get out of there.
Shop and Save has Krispy Kremes which I find way too sweet, although they do have seasonal donuts like pumpkin. Same deal as Schnucks only without the musack.
Soulard Market has those minitature donuts made right before your eyes so you know they're fresh, but they just don't taste all that good. Ditto for the place that sells beignets. Just so-so. Everyone knows about the ambiance factor at Soulard.
BP and 7/11. BP used to have Dunkin Donuts (yeah!) but now has Donut King donuts. I don't know where 7/11 gets their donuts. I have just one word for these places: Gack!

Coffee: You may have noticed that I didn't mention anything about the coffee served at these places. It's because I am a coffee snob, and only drink the kind I make at home. Sorry. No, not really.

So there you have it. Go out and revel in such earthly delights! Keep in mind though that if you bring any of these babies to work, you may become the permanent "donut getter".

1 comment:

GMichaud said...

The park looks beautiful. Great comprehensive post on donut shops. What an expert, I'd weigh 500 pounds if I ate all of those donuts.