Why there’s a National Donut Day (June 2), I’ll never know. Because really, isn’t any day a reason to admire, fondle, dream about and stuff a fried piece of dough into your maw?
It does, however, seem a fitting day to open a donut store, which is exactly what Santa Rosa’s City Garden Doughnuts just did in Santa Rosa. (Fighting a sugar coma, we’re going to use the alternate spelling of “donut” from here out, grammarians).
These aren’t workaday donuts or wacky cereal-coated marshmallow-dipped curiosities that are more fun to look at than eat. Instead, City Garden takes a more subtle approach using intensely-flavored glazes made with fresh fruit (the lemon glaze is perfectly pucker-worthy) and chocolate atop pillowy brioche.
Let’s take a tiny time-out to appreciate the brioche process. Unlike traditional donuts often made from a mix, City Garden uses a scratch baking technique with plenty of fresh local butter, milk and flour, and up to a day of proofing process for richer, but less greasy, crave-worthy result. Just like a donut ought to be.
Over a couple of lattes and two trays of donuts, owner Alan McCandless said he planned to either open a donut shop or a hamburger place. Or maybe a pizzeria. Donuts won, and over the last six months he created City Garden Doughnuts -- named for the 1860's-era Santa Rosa public garden that once stood nearby.
It’s not that Alan isn’t decisive about what he wanted, it’s just that he loves food a whole lot, and sees edible inspiration everywhere. The South Jersey native recently created the Santa Barbara donut after a trip south and a stop at the famous Rori’s Creamery, where he tried their black pepper pistachio. Enamored, he translated the ice cream into a donut, adding fresh lemon glaze. And voila, an amazing donut. McCandless, who is a bit camera shy, has partnered with wife Terri McCandless and business partner Jeff Bertoli.
Other favorites: A maple bacon combo (made with Hobbs bacon) that’s a taste of Sunday morning any day of the week; orange-glazed with fresh orange juice and zest; strawberry glazed and Guittard chocolate with sea salt.
But wait, there’s a whole lot more. The “Hobbs” scone is (and we don’t say this lightly) the best scone we’ve ever had. Unlike the dusty hockey pucks we’ve had too many places, this version falls apart like a stood up prom date, but with a whole lot of bacon, Vella cheddar and green onion inside. Flavor-full!
Coffee is from Ukiah’s Black Oak Roasters, and City Garden barista, Richard, made us several of their signature lattes—“Borgia” with infused orange zest and the “Lover's Lane", made with honey and garnished with bee pollen from hives tended by the owner of Black Oak. Richard's own creation is the 'Potle, made with smoked chipotle and Dutch chocolate that's a less cloying version take on a Mexican hot chocolate.
Need a glucose stabilizer after all that yummy? City Garden Doughnut’s Harney and Sons Cinnamon Spice Nitro Ice Tea is our official drink of the summer—made with three types of cinnamon, no sugar, and a flavor that slaps your taste buds awake.
City Garden Doughnuts is at 1200 4th St, Santa Rosa, 595-1932, facebook.com/CityGardenDoughnuts.