Thursday, June 09, 2016

Donut Savant

Have I mentioned that I love donuts?  Yeah, I love donuts.  I'm always look for an excuse to try out a new donut shop.

One place I heard great things about is Donut Savant, known mostly for the size of their donuts.  And no, not because they are huge.  Instead, they are known for having actually reasonable size donuts.  The donut holes are bigger than a standard donut hole (probably twice the size of a Munchkin, for you Dunkin' Donuts folks), a bit bigger than a golf ball.  Really, the perfect size to be able to try a few different donuts (which you know you always want to do anyway).  They also make bars that are slightly bigger, rolls that are a bit bigger still, fritters that are bigger yet, and some full size cronuts and jelly donuts.  But none are monsters.  The story goes that the owners wanted to solve the problem of having folks always hacking up donuts and leaving behind a box of carnage so they could try multiples / take less.

Since I like to try all the things, this sounded great to me.  Plus, the donuts are supposed to be excellent.  The only problem?  Um, Donut Savant is in Oakland.  Luckily, they deliver to SF!  But ... only if you order $50 of donuts.  Which, for some places, (ahem, Dynamo), is easy.  But at Donut Savant, each donut is ~$1 (even less when you buy them in person, basic holes are only $0.50!).  I needed a reason to order 50 donuts.  I finally got one, when I organized a large event for my team.  We obviously needed donuts for our morning break, right?

Ordering online and delivery were easy.  But, honestly, I didn't love the donuts (except for the fritters!).  For the most part, they were fine, but, really nothing special.  Maybe I went into it with too high of expectations?  That said, the size really was great, and the fritter was one of the best I've ever had.  I'd eat them again, but, I'll be seeking out somewhere else to try next time ...
Baker's Choice Dozen. $12.50.
"Baker's choice of a dozen assorted cake donuts plus one free specialty donut."

To make decision making easy, I opted for several boxes of Baker's Choice Dozen, which come with 12 of the donut holes, plus an extra large special one thrown in.  Our boxes of dozens included all their standard offerings: chocolate glazed, vanilla glazed, salted maple glazed, chocolate dusted, maple pecan, coconut dream, and cronuts for the extras.

From this box, I tried a donut hole, the chocolate dust (center near the top, below the pecan topped one).

Chocolate Dust Hole: "Buttermilk cake with a dark chocolate cocoa and sugar dusting."  I tried only one of the holes, since I had my eye on the specialty donuts.  It was a standard cake donut, not too dense, and coated in cocoa and sugar.  It was what it was.  Not particularly interesting, and I didn't really taste that much cocoa.

Delivered, the dozen is $12.50, pickup is $10.
Chocolate Bars - $1. Sufganiyot - $2.50. Chocolate Glazed Cronut - $2.50.
I mostly ordered boxes of the Baker's Choice Dozens, but, I did also pick out a few specific special ones.

Chocolate Bar: "Raised dough with dark chocolate frosting."

I ordered a bunch of the chocolate glazed bars, since I knew they'd bit a hit with my crowd.  They were about double the size of the holes, yet still only $1.  I didn't try one, but I'm assuming it was the same dark chocolate frosting as the others, which was fantastic.

Chocolate Glazed Cronut: "A labor of love which blends the best of a donut and a croissant. Our raised donut dough is rolled and folded like a croissant. The result: a unique combination that tastes like a donut with the flaky, layered texture of a croissant. We call this creation 'The Cron't' (rhymes with “don’t”)."

Ojan wanted a cronut, and selected the chocolate glaze.  I stole a bite before delivering it to him.  It wasn't like other cronuts I've had, in that it wasn't really layered and laminated like a croissant.  I think they used the same regular raised donut dough and just folded it differently, rather than frying a laminated dough?  It was kinda chewy.  So it wasn't really a croissant, and it wasn't really a donut.  Honestly, I wasn't impressed with the texture at all.  The chocolate ganache on top however was great, very thick, very rich, great chocolate flavor.  Cronuts are the most expensive items at $2.50 ($2 at the store), and are basically regular size donuts.
Sufganiyot: Inside.  $2.50.
"Raised dough filled with strawberry raspberry jam and dusted with cane sugar. "

This donut was the reason I was excited for Donut Savant.  I really, really love a good jelly donut.  I didn't know anything about Donut Savant's jelly donuts in particular, I just know they are my favorite donuts, so I couldn't wait to try one from a donut shop that was supposed to be all around great.

Sadly, it was the most disappointing donut I tried.  It was just a basic mediocre raised dough donut.  The dough didn't seem special in any way, not slightly sweet, and, almost even a bit stale and chewy.  It was nicely coated in sugar.

The filling ... also not great.  And there wasn't that much of it.  Really, everything about this was mediocre.

It was a standard full size donut size, and the most expensive item (besides cronuts) at $2.50.  I wouldn't get again.
Cinnamon Rolls. $1. 007 Sean Pecan-ery. $1.25.
One of my co-workers loves cinnamon rolls, so, I also got a ton of these.

Cinnamon Roll: "Raised dough cinnamon roll."

I started with a basic cinnamon roll.  These were slightly bigger than the smaller donuts, but still much smaller than any other cinnamon rolls I've seen.

It was ... fine.  The defining characteristic was the amount of cinnamon, very generous between the folds.  Nicely glazed.  Overall, solid I guess, but not particularly distinct from other cinnamon rolls, besides the smaller size.

007 Sean Pecan-ery: "Raised dough cinnamon roll with buttercream frosting & toasted pecans."

Of course, I really had my eye on the 007.  Why have just a glazed cinnamon roll when you can add frosting and pecans?  I liked the addition of the sweet frosting and crunchy pecans, and this was a far more exciting option than the plain cinnamon roll.
Apple Fritter. $1.25.
And finally, fritters.  Because, although I said I love a good jelly donut, I adore a good fritter.  I'm a sucker for fritters.

"Raised dough with granny smith apples and cinnamon."

And these delivered.  This was basically the best apple fritter ever.  For multiple reasons.

First, let's start with the apple part.  They actually had chunks of apple.  I know most fritters have some little bits of apple here or there, but in these, you could actually find the chunks, and they were good.  And I don't even really care for apple!

The dough was slightly sweet, moist inside, slightly crisp outside, nicely glazed.  Very solid.

Next, the size.  These were the second largest donuts (besides the cronuts and full size jelly donuts), about twice the size of the small ones, a little bigger than the cinnamon rolls.  Literally the most perfect size.  Plenty big enough to satisfy, but not pushing you towards feeling gross at all, which can really happen with standard super sized fritters (seriously, why are fritters always so crazy big?).  I had one after lunch (yes, after having 3 different donuts that morning), and it still didn't feel like "too much".

I really enjoyed this fritter, and would gladly get another.  Hands down favorite item I tried.
Donut Savant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 06, 2016

SF Soup Company

SF Soup Company is a San Francisco based chain, started in 1999.  They have 10+ locations in San Francisco, mostly in the FiDi, as well as a handful throughout the peninsula.  As you may have guessed, they specialize in soups, but also make salads and sandwiches to go alongside.  A few of the locations also offer breakfast.

I've walked by several of the more prominent locations, in the Westfield Mall and the Metreon, many, many times.  But, soup, salads, and sandwiches aren't really my go to items.  Of course, samples are though, and often times when you walk by one of their restaurants, they are out front hawking soup or salad samples.  So, even though not a destination I'd really seek out, I've tried a number of their items over the years.

The Space

Premade Sandwiches, Soups.
Soups and sandwiches are pre-made.  They make something like 40 different soups, which rotate daily.  Even when not out front hawking soup samples, they are happy to let you sample any flavor before purchase.  Soups are served for you, in a regular or bread bowl.

Sandwiches are mostly half sandwiches, and aren't anything unexpected, your basic turkey, roast beef, tuna, and egg salad are available.  Perhaps the most interesting is the hummus wrap?  Sandwiches are clearly not the focus, but, an item added to the menu because customers don't just want soup.  They are pre-made and easy to grab and go.
Salad Making Station.
Salads are made to order.  They offer up some suggested recipes, but you can also create your own custom tossed salads.

The Food

I've tried many samples, but only stopped to purchase soup one day, when Ojan wasn't feeling well, and I wanted to bring him something comforting.
Sourdough Bread.
Soup comes with a choice of sourdough bread (a baguette chunk) or wheat roll.  I didn't want either, but Ojan opted for the sourdough.  The chunks were all a generous size, assorted pieces, including ends as he selected, or middle slices with less crust.

The bread looked fresh enough, soft and fluffy, but since I loathe sourdough, I didn't bother try it.  Ojan said it was "too sour", and only ate a few bites.  Sourdough that is ... too sour?


As I mentioned, they offer a slew of soups, and the varieties offered at any given location rotate daily.  You can check the soup schedule online.
Grandma Mary's Chicken Soup. $xx.xx
"A flavorful, soothing broth full of chunks of hand pulled Chicken, Parsnips, Carrots, Celery and Egg Noodles finished with fresh Dill. Just like Grandma Mary used to make it. "

This was for Ojan, when he was not feeling well.  I tasted the broth.  It was decently seasoned, nicely salty.  It seemed like the right sort of thing for a sick person ... if I liked soup.

The egg noodles were actually optional, and were added in by the person serving the soup.  I'm sure the gluten-free or low carb folks appreciate this.

The soup did look decent, loaded up with generous chunks of vegetable and tons of chicken.  Ojan said it was ok, appropriate for being sick.

On other walk-bys, I tried the following:

  • New England Clam Chowder: “A thick, rich and creamy traditional recipe loaded with Clams from the North Atlantic and Red Skinned Potatoes. “  Tasting notes: Awful!  Fairly nasty flavor in the base, really fishy, not creamy. Clams really chewy. This was really not good. [ This time I liked it, very creamy rich base. Didn't love, but didn't hate anyway. ]
  • Organic tomato bisque: “A luscious, silky, Organic Tomato and Sweet Cream soup.”  Tasting notes:  Not flavorful at all. Canned tomato soup is better.
  • Organic Southwestern Corn Chowder: “A delectable blend of Roasted Corn, Red Bell Peppers and Red Skinned Potatoes simmered with Ancho, New Mexico and Chipotle Chiles. “  Tasting notes: Not bad.  Creamy, nice corn flavor, big chunks of not overcooked potato. It was a bit spicy, but the potatoes were overwhelming and mushy.
  • Cream of Exotic Mushroom: “A rich, thick, pureed mushroom soup with Crimini, Oyster, Porcini, and White Mushrooms finished with a splash of Cream. “ Tasting notes: not much mushroom flavor, not very good.


Salads are available in several pre-designed recipes for entree or side salads, or you can pick your own ingredients and they are mixed to order. I haven't ever ordered a salad, but Ii've tried a few samples. Interestingly, the salads have been my favorite items.
Cranberry Kale Salad.

"Tender massaged kale with tri-colored quinoa, dried cranberries & feta cheese with meyer lemon vinaigrette." 

This salad was entirely ruined by the vinaigrette.  It was way, way too tangy.  The kale was fresh and crisp though, and I did like the quinoa, but I don't really like dried cranberries or feta, so, not much for me here, and that dressing ... ugh.

  • Grilled Chicken Chipotle Salad: “Organic Mixed Greens, Grilled Chicken Breast, Roasted Corn, Jicama, Black Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado, Cheddar Cheese, Organic Blue Corn Tortilla with creamy chipotle dressing”. Tasting notes: This was surprisingly good. Fairly fresh greens, nice ingredients, zesty dressing.  Cheddar cheese was generic shredded stuff though. 
  • Asian Chicken Salad: “Organic Mixed Greens, Grilled Chicken Breast, Shredded Carrots, Edamame, Shredded Cabbage, Crispy Wonton, with Sesame Miso Dressing.” Tasting notes: This was tasty! Fresh greens, nice crunch from the crispy wontons, tender edamame. The sesame miso dressing was delicious, and it wasn’t over dressed. 
  • Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad: “Organic Romaine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Foccacia Croutons, Shredded Parmesan Cheese.” Tasting notes: Another pleasant surprise. The lettuce was crispy and about as good as you can hope for romaine. The dressing was zesty. The parmesan was a fairly sharp flavor, in big shreds. The croutons were a nice crunch, not stale tasting. Overall, pretty decent, although the dressing was the weakest component, not all that indistinguishable from any generic dressing from a bottle.


Several locations offer breakfast. The menu is simple, just oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and frittata sandwiches. I tried the oatmeal once when, as you might be able to guess now, they were giving out samples.
    • Brown Sugar and Raisins: "Organic Steel Cut Oats simmered and stirred with just a dash of Brown Sugar and hint of Cinnamon and Vanilla. " Tasting Notes: I had this as a sample, so it was lukewarm, but the oatmeal was actually pretty nice and creamy.  Not gloopy.  They had topped it with way too much brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and some plump raisins.  Not bad, actually.
    • Fruit and Granola: This item has been discontinued. Tasting Notes: I had this as another sample. Again, not a bad consistency. Definitely no bad mushy, gloopy, oatmeal here.  The fruit was sweet and nice, more like a compote than fresh fruit though.  Granola on top of oatmeal was a little strange, I liked the crunch, but it was a bit odd.
San Francisco Soup Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato