Okay, is it safe in this day and age to assume that everyone knows about Voodoo Doughnut? The place has been covered by both Anthony Bourdain AND Adam Richman, but in case you don't watch much TV you can find out more here. Of course, there's a chance that you've been there yourself or at least know someone who has, and if the latter is the case let me just say that everything you've heard about the place is true. Yes, the waiting time is horrendous. Yes, they do weddings there. Yes the decor is...eccentric. Yes, the specialty doughnuts are RIDICULOUSLY decadent. They also have scary bathrooms and their coffee is pretty crappy, but I can live with these things for a great doughnut. And let me make another point here: even if you've never had a Voodoo Doughnut, you may kind of had one anyway considering the fact that I've seen knockoffs of their "safer" varieties at Fred Meyer, Albertson's and DK Donuts.
I've been to Voodoo three times now, two of those in one night a year ago when we ended up hitting both Portland locations. We hit the downtown spot first and spent half an hour fairly late at night waiting in line with a bunch of punks, panhandlers, skaters, hipsters, goths, foodies and other tourists. When we finally made it to the front of the line we ordered a selection and then headed out for the other location because, honestly, I didn't recall for certain which of them Bourdain had been to and I wanted to finally eat someplace that he had. We'll continue when you're done snickering and rolling your eyes. Anyway, I recalled pretty quickly after arriving at Voodoo Doughnut Too that the big, mostly empty pink building was NOT the one Bourdain had visited, which was all for the best considering that their selection had been pretty picked over at that point. We ended up getting coffee and eating our doughnuts from the other location there, since at least Voodoo Too had easily accessible (but pretty funky) bathrooms and tables where you could sit while you ate. On my most recent trip to Portland the downtown location was closed for remodeling, so the half hour wait had moved to Voodoo Too. Having finally tried the doughnuts at that location, I'm happy to report that they're just as good.
|The doughnut carousel, a lovely sight late at night...|
As to the doughnuts themselves, you've probably seen or heard of several of them, like the Voodoo Doll doughnut with the stake in its heart and the raspberry filling, the one that looks like a big joint, the various cereal-dipped varieties, and so on. I'm going to address two specifically: the one that everyone has heard about and the one that surprisingly few people have heard about. Let's start with my personal favorite...
|Bacon Maple Bars|
You've heard about this one, right? It seems to get a lot of love from every travel show host, blogger and critic that visits the place. It's as good as they all say, possibly the only doughnut I like anywhere near as much as my beloved French crullers. I've always been a big fan of maple bars, but this is an entirely new level. First of all, that dry, airy style of bar doughnut you're used to? This ain't it. This is a dense, chewy pastry that is far more satisfying than the grocery store doughnuts that seem to be the most popular of our severely limited options here in Boise. The maple icing itself is in an entirely different league as well, soft and liberally applied, it is infinitely more enjoyable than the standard quick-dip type that turns into a shell that cracks and flakes off when you bite into it. The bacon, an addition that seems to horrify many at first before quickly winning them over, adds a nicely salty contrast (like I said, the icing is thick) and really, what the hell DOESN'T bacon improve? Speaking as a doughnut fan, a maple bar fan specifically, and a confessed bacon addict, this doughnut just plain rules. If you're ever in Portland (or Eugene now as well) and you have the time and the patience, I cannot recommend this enough.
Now, let's spend a moment talking about one of the less-pimped varieties on the Voodoo menu. It's big, it's pricey, and if you're astute you may even have noticed it quickly flash by in the background on Man v Food. Oh hell, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
|My sister holding a big chocolate Cock-n-Balls. Below, a Portland Creme gazes up in horror.|
Ah, the Cock-n-Balls. A triple-sized, triple Bavarian cream filled doughnut. Basically, this is a twist doughnut smashed together with two Bavarian cream doughnuts before being dipped in chocolate. It's the kind of thing that goes over well at bachelorette parties and with people like myself who have a fixation with taking pictures of the things they eat. But is it GOOD? Yes, if you like Bavarian cream and chocolate and have a big appetite or a couple of friends to share it with you. Other than the size and shape, however, there's nothing special about this since it's the same thing you'd get if you ordered two Bavarian cream doughnuts and a chocolate twist. Frankly, there are too many good and unusual varieties available at Voodoo for me to recommend this one, unless you want pictures of your own, of course.
|See that question mark? Wouldn't Boise look great in that space?|
Voodoo Doughnut is my kind of place. Decadent and bizarre, with food that you love but hate yourself for eating. In fact, after our first visit we stopped by McDonald's for fries to counteract all the sugar in our systems. I can't wait to return and see what they've done to the downtown branch, and hopefully try one of their "normal" doughnuts to see how they stack up. Yes, if you visit and the more esoteric menu options intimidate you a little, there are standard doughnuts available. As for me, if I had the scratch I'd be in Portland right now begging the proprietors to let me open a Voodoo Doughnut here in Boise. My birthday is in less than two months, and if you're having trouble deciding what to get me, a whole bunch of cash is always nice. The Bacon Maple Bars would be on me! The Cock-n-Balls would cost you though. Hmm, there's a metaphor in there somewhere...
Final Grade: A-