Donut Plant

Donut Plant

Do you believe in serendipity? I do, since how else was it possible that the day I decide to randomly hop on a bus just to see where it goes, the bus winds up right in front of the Doughnut Plant? The Doughnut Plant is famed throughout the city (and apparently Japan) for innovative doughnut flavors and fillings, yet I have never actively sought it out, because fried sweet dough as we all know, are BAD. Tasty but sends you to calorific hell.

However, since the bus deposited me right in front of the store, there was no way I was not at leasting trying one. The tres leches cake doughnut it was, and wow was it worth the hype. The fried tube of cake dough was filled with a semi-viscous condensed milk that just oozes out. The firm cake and the warm filling milk collapses in my mouth and melds together into a sweet mush. Delicious.

Since the first trip, I’ve been making occasional sojourns back to the doughnut plant since I now know how to get there. I love their cake doughnuts, be it the pumpkin that’s packed with cinnamon and spice, and the ultra-indulgent chocolate blackout cake. I have been unimpressed with the yeast doughnuts however, finding them too leaden and greasy, but they too have their followers. And while you’ll find the doughnuts sold in many other locations such as Dean & Deluca, they are still best in the original store, where turnover is fast and the supplies always fresh.

The Doughnut Plant

379 Grand St (at Suffolk St)

http://www.doughnutplant.com/

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paniniWe celebrated my housemate’s birthday last weekend at the LES hotspot. While it is usually a pain to have dinner at Inoteca, no thanks to its hyper-popularity and no-reservations policy, a big group of us managed to nab prime saturday night seating due to a peculiarity in its reservation policy. While Inoteca does not usually take reservations, it is happy to do so for groups larger than 8, with a credit card to secure the table of course. Which translate to good news for us, and too bad for the couples and groups that arrived in time for an hour long wait.

Inoteca provides a pre-fixe family style meal to facilitate speedy large group dinners. I’m not too sure if its compulsory, but we didn’t mind to have the freedom of choice inoteca affettatiwrested off our hands this time, and the appealing menu made for sharing meant I got to taste upwards of 10 dishes. Yay for family style meals.

By the time G and I got to the restaurant (I had to stall her so that everyone else was seated), olives and bread were sitting at the table, alongside bottles of wine. No one seemed to be touching the olives though. Well, more for me. Next came the salads and an assortment of mixed cold meats, none too memorable. The salads though were good/very good, including the de rigeur beet salad, a really lovely octopus, bean, celery and fennel salad, with the little twirl of octopus lightly grilled and smoky, as well as the meaty shredded duck salad, with the meat slightly rare and gamy, sitting on top of some greens, slighty crunchy lentils, and some sweet pickled onlasagnetteions to provide a little tang.

With salads accounted for, we kicked into full carbo gear with the entrees. 2 trays of panini found their way onto the table. Needless to say, I avoided the roasted vege one in favor of the sopressata and goat cheese filled meat sandwich. Unfortunately, while the bread is nice and chewy, the inclusion of goat cheese overwhelmed the sweet & spicy cured meat. Thankfully I like the other entrees more. The meatballs were juicy and swimming in a tomato sauce that included a lot of yummy citrus overtones. It smelt like I was taking a walk in an orchard.  The solid block eggplant lasagna oozed with melting cheese, and while heavy was comforting on a frigid night. In that plate of fried vegetables (unfortunately soggy after sitting out for a while), I found a new found appreciation for battered fennel, where the sweetness and anisey flavor seemed enhanced after an oil bath. And G could not stop digging into the plate of firm polenta dressed with a side a very fried cauliflower bits. If you have not noticed, the menu is very veggie-friendly, making it a good option for a carnivore/herbivore group outing destination. And even if all of the attendees are avowed meat eaters, we lapped the vegetable dishes up.

What is dinner without dessert? And so we downed shots of affogato (vanilla icecream drenched in espresso); grabbed warm panini oozing with thick smears of nutella, a cheese plate (the server went too fast for me to note anything down) and a rather unappetizing plate of cooked fruits which everyone avoided. Ice cream and fruits. No guesses for what we polished off and what got neglected.

The restaurant got busier and busier as the night went on, the long bar was 3 deep, and G was constantly accosted by servers with their hands full of hot plates and people waiting for tables. Given normal circumstances, I would probably not eat at Inoteca because I hate to wait. But for two hours that night I was oblivious to it all, the noise level, the crazy wait, the discomfort of sitting practically on top of my neighbor. I got caught up in our conversation (we must have been loud, but I didn’t notice), the happenings of my friends, the celebration of my housemate’s birthday and the spread on our table.

Inoteca

www.inotecanyc.com

98 Rivington St (at Ludlow St)