PVDonuts, May 2020

These are weird times. I’ve been judging donut shops on how well they’re handling orders via online orders and doing their pickups, etc. I went to Blackbird on the last day they were open before non-essential businesses closed for the stay at home advisory, and they weren’t sure what their plans were going to be during all this. They were the only ones I was keeping an eye on at the time, but also didn’t plan my donut provisions for the next few months, not really knowing what was going to be happening.

After about a month of really not having to drive anywhere, I had known someone who ventured up to Kane’s and did a pre-order, and I saw their drive through was still open, so popped up there for a few donuts. Definitely went at the WRONG time and a bunch of stuff ended up selling out, but ended up with a honey dipped raised donut and glazed stick (cake). Once I got those bad boys home, I ate them like I’ve never seen a donut in my life. It was like I was punishing myself for not knowing they were open this whole time.

Blackbird finally opened up for online ordering, but only offering pre-packaged 6-packs, no singles or picking flavors. I went for it though on the first day. Good flavor lineup, and it had been a few weeks since I had done donuts, so thought it would be a good weekend treat. I like their cold brew too. Only problem is some of the flavors don’t hold great the next day, and I live alone, so FINE I GUESS I’LL EAT SIX ALL AT ONCE.

This is going to be a problem if no one can stay at home and wear masks and this goes on forever. I knew I’d have to up my running game. I’m not traditionally a runner, but occasionally sign up for races, mostly being 5k, but have signed up for a couple half-marathons. Those I wanted to make sure I was training properly for. But since I have none on my schedule, AND with other gyms and such being closed, I’d have to start running…. multiple times a week… [shudder]. Then I started challenging myself more and doing more hill work.

Meanwhile– someone had sent me a post from Providence Donuts with their current lineup, and how their pre-orders worked. Pre-order dates were hard to come by! Very in demand. PVD has been on my list for a while too, so I was excited to now make getting their donuts more difficult rather than JUST HAVING GONE IN THE BEFORE TIME. But whatever, better late than never.

After checking daily for pre-order dates to open up, I finally see one in a couple days. I select it, then run down the menu and just blindly add one of each that sounds like it’d be amazing. Seven total. I haven’t been there before and had no advance scouting, so I have no idea how big these are or how well they’ll hold up. I also don’t even know how much they are…

Back to running– the day before I’m scheduled to pick them up, I notice a weird new soreness in my ankle. Definitely not a normal running muscle soreness, and I’ve mostly worked all that out by now. APPARENTLY my form isn’t great and I’ve been putting too much stress on one of my Achilles and it got all swollen. Not even a good swole either. So… I have to give that a bit of a rest. Perfect time for a donut binge.

Whatever. POWER THROUGH.

Covid-specific Process

PVD’s pre-order process is pretty simple. Jump on their form, pick your date, pick your pickup time, enter your contact info, add quantities of what you want in the list. No pre-pay though, that’s all done at pickup. If you’ll be more than an hour late, they ask you to contact them, but otherwise they could be released for walk-in customers. No cash at pickup also. I used Apple Pay, so easy enough, but you can use card too.

There’s a pre-order line/pickup window they have set up (currently only Fri-Sun), with a barrier and marked out Xs to keep everyone aware of the 6ft space. I went right at 8am, and not a ton of people were there.

For the walk-in folk, they have a separate line with a similar barrier and Xs, and anyone beyond a certain point is asked to wait across the street and abide by 6ft distancing. I have one question–

WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE NOT PRE-ORDERING? With a limited amount of people allowed in the store at one time, and knowing the general populations penchant for not being prepared at all for picking out donuts, some of them are looking at maybe at least an hour wait I would think. At that point, do you REALLY need it? I’m all about supporting local businesses, but think about your time people! Also, learn what 6ft is. It was madness on the other side of the street.

The Donuts

I grabbed seven. Well, six and a fritter. Ok, four and two crullers and a fritter if we’re going to nitpick. This particular menu also ends at the end of May, so this is just for posterity’s sake or if there are any that pop up again, but I’m also looking at the general quality of raised vs cake vs fritter vs cruller. I also didn’t grab any great pictures because I wasn’t thinking ahead, and then I just mercilessly attacked once I got the box open.

This is going to be a weird batch to start this with. I’ve had A LOT of donuts, but this is probably one of my favorite batches. A colleague of mine has a theory that the area down there has a secret treasure trove of high quality donuts. I’m enamored with what I’ve had around Boston, but I had to go to Providence to have my mind blown.

French Toast (brioche)
Three and a half donuts (out of five). I want to make little donut graphics for this BUT GIVE ME TIME
Love at first bite. Which, yeah, is weird that I gave it three and a half donuts, but let me explain. This was a perfect raised brioche donut. An overall excellent fry that created a thin, crispy shell to keep its form, and a light, fluffy interior that just melt in your mouth. THAT’s what I was in love with. For my first venture in to PVD, I was impressed.

I didn’t really pick up a ton of french toast-specific essence, nothing that really reminded me that I was eating french toast instead of a donut, the way that some french toast bagels might. It has a maple glaze, spiced cream cheese frosting, and brown sugar crumble– I don’t typically put that on my french toast… but maybe I’m missing out? I thought the frosting and glaze and crumble ended up making it a little too sweet and size (about as big as my hand) not ideal for eating the whole thing.

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I ate the whole thing.

Cereal Milk (brioche)
Four donuts
Kept the brioche train rolling and grabbed this one next. Definitely picked up the cereal milk taste, which I’m assuming is in the glaze (can’t find a specific write-up). A little sweet, but that may be attributed to the 700 pounds of fruity pebbles coating it. Not complaining, just, may have been a little sweeted out from the previous donut.

Ate the whole thing.

Confetti Cruller
Four and half donuts
I love crullers. If I’m ever forced to go to Dunkin’ and they have a cruller, that’s my weak running tendon. ESPECIALLY if they have some kitschy crap on it. Put extra frosting on it? Give me six. Put sprinkles too? I’ll mercy kill it so quick. PVD’s cruller is so fluffy and smooth and perfect glaze and the sprinkles on top just light up my world. I couldn’t give it a whole five donuts because I’m afraid of perfection. So let’s just grade that on a curve.

Was [semi] responsible, waited an hour, ate half.

Birthday Cookie (brioche)
Four donuts
Another brioche, but this has a cookie on top! Pro tip: put a cookie on top of a turd, call it a donut, I’ll probably eat it. Funfetti sugar cookie on top of brioche with a funfetti/cookie crumble. Can’t go wrong.

Managed to keep myself to half, maybe an hour later.

Blueberry Cake (…cake)
Four donuts
Blueberry cake is one of those staples that most shops have and good to use as a baseline. PVD did not disappoint. Some cake donuts are too dense, some too light and crumbly, this was perfectly on the bullseye. Moist and light, and the blueberry glaze wasn’t too strong, but a perfect balance of flavor and glazey crisp to round out the cake– and bonus: frosted all the way around.

Time is a blur at this point, but ate the whole thing. Sweetness did not overcome me.

Triple Berry Fritter
Four donuts
This is a big boy. Dense, but in a good way, not overwhelmingly so. You want something heartier than a cake donut, and just a mess of doughy goodness. Very pleasant fruit action, but just the right amount to balance out the fritter, but still a good thick enough to get a good texture around. A wasp got into the house and was particularly drawn to this one.

Ate a third.

White Chocolate Snickerdoodle (filled)
Three donuts
Ate some real dinner in there at some point, just so I wouldn’t feel like a total glutton going right for this. Good donut quality, but my qualms were sweetness again. And the cookie is too crispy to cut half of or get through with a bite. Yes, I take issue with hard to navigate kitschy toppings. I also wasn’t totally on board with the filling. Creamy, but had a snickerdoodle spice or something to it that was just too much. Sweetness and spice that took away some enjoyment. And it’s big. Definitely one to split with people.

This is where you’ll learn how I approach donuts too. I refuse to feel shame. Ate the whole thing. (What! I don’t like filled donuts sitting for too long, and I wanted to give it a full taste chance.)

Bonus PSA: Don’t get a filled donut and smash it open for your insta’. Stop. Just stop.

Vanilla Sprinkled (brioche)
Four and a half donuts
I had the other half of the sprinkled cruller the next morning, and was surprised how well it held up. Got a little dried out, and I hypothesized because the inside was now exposed (I just left everything in the shut box, no extra sealing). So I had high hopes for a full brioche. If you have to get one donut for a quick breakfast treat (ya know, once things open normally again, not waiting in line for sixteen hours), this is a solid choice. All the previous brioche notes + sprinkles and a great glaze.

Full send!

Honey Cruller
Four donuts

See above. Minus sprinkles. Great stuff. Full send!

Also ate the rest of the birthday cookie. Still held up!

Cost

I have no idea! There’s no pricing on their site, and none via the pre-order. All I know was the total: $31 and change. And I threw a little tip on top. So– looking at almost $4.50/donut. Didn’t get a line-item receipt so not sure if brioche/cruller/filled/fritters differ. I also hit no receipt on the screen… so…. my bad.

There’s an ice cream shop that is doing pre-orders and I think jumped their milkshake prices up 100% right now. I forgot what they were before, but they definitely weren’t as high as I paid recently. So maybe that’s what’s happening here? Specialty shops differ a bit here and there, but all hover around the same price, and hole-in-the-wall places are much lower. This is higher than the average though. When I eventually get a ranking system together, this will definitely have to be a weighted factor somehow. Not saying that’s a knock on PVD, because these were ABSOLUTELY worth it.

Coffee

When I do weekend donuts, it’s nice to sit down, take some time to work through a couple or a dozen, grab a coffee, and throw an album on. Good morning light, usually no landscapers going bonkers yet.. just a good peaceful way to start the day.

PVDonuts does have coffee in store, via other companies, but didn’t check if they were doing that for pre-orders/walk-ins. But I had some cold brew concentrate from Blackbird at home. And I don’t think I adhere to the mixing standards correctly, so I’m making some pretty strong stuff. GONNA MURDER THE DAY.

Donut Album of the Morning

Midnight RerunsForce of Nurture
I like putting physical albums on, kinda makes me feel more deliberate about what I’m listening to and feels like you’re a little more connected. Also can’t get lost in something else if you have to flip over to side B. But this is a group out of Milwaukee a friend turned me on to. This album rocks my face off. Fun riffs and bass lines and side B starts (Note on a Bill) and ends stroonnngggg. Really love the ending.

Not sure what’s up next for donuts. Blackbird does a new menu weekly. Kane’s is out there. Meanwhile, going to go ice my ankle some more. Maybe my stomach.

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