Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Bob's Donuts

OMG, donuts.  Yes, I have a label on my blog for donuts.  Yes, I eat donuts at least once a week.  I really like donuts.

I'm willing to try donuts from pretty much anywhere, they don't need to be high-end, fancy flavor, artisan donuts (a la the much hyped Dynamo Donuts, or my favorite Johnny donuts).  I even like fast food ones like from Super Duper Burger ... although, sorry, I'm not a lover of Krispy Kreme, and I can't stand some donuts, like the awful ones my office used to get from Posh Bakery.

I'd wanted to try Bob's Donuts for years, literally.  Located on Polk Street in Nob Hill, open 24 hours.  A very simple, classic, donut shop.

Bob's is known for their ridiculous massive donut that could feed an army, but also, for just having really, really good donuts.  These aren't fancy donuts, no bacon, miso, or other fusion ingredients here.  The only gimicky thing they do is the single huge glazed donut.
The Big Donut: Chocolate Glazed with Sprinkles.  $8.
"The Big Kahuna, the Belly Buster, the Scale Breaker, whatever you want to call it, it's the BIG ONE. This bad boy is what our Challenge contenders are faced against and it's always ready for battle. You have a choice for any traditional ring toppings; chocolate frosting, crumbs, sprinkles, maple, or just plain ole glazed. "

This is not a photo where perspective is out to deceive.  This donut is indeed just that much bigger than those on the bottom shelf.

This is the famous Bob's Big Donut.  Bob's donuts are so good that they don't need a gimmick like a big donut to get hype and draw crowds.  But they have it anyway.  This donut is the object of the Donut Challenge.  The goal is simple: one person tries to consume the entire thing in 2 minutes.  If you succeed, you get your $8 back (and a T-Shirt, and your name put on their wall of fame).  3 minutes gets you the shirt and fame, but, you still have to pay.

I don't actually want to do that challenge, but, it would be fun to share one of these sometime, and carve it up like a cake.  Or ... waffle it?
Signature Pink Box!
One day I was at my desk at work, and an e-mail popped up: "Extra Bob's Donuts, 3rd floor".  I literally stopped everything I was doing an ran downstairs.  Finally!

They come in classic pink donut boxes.
Since then, I've made it a point to visit the shop myself, with large windows facing the sidewalk where you can admire the freshest items, still cooling on trays.

And, because I work somewhere awesome, e-mails like that first one show up fairly regularly, so I've now had a large assortment of Bob's donuts.  And, I endorse them, particularly the jelly donut, and any of the raised varieties.


Bob's makes all the standard styles of donuts: cake and raised ring donuts, and also giant bars.
Maple Glazed Buttermilk Bar (cake).
I loved this one, which surprised me, since I don't tend to prefer cake style donuts.  The maple glaze was sweet and crunchy, and I really liked the texture of the donut itself.  One of the best cake donuts I have ever had.
Old Fashioned Bar.
I tried a small chunk of the old fashioned bar, just for completeness, but it was the least interesting of the donuts that I tried.

A standard cake donut, nice glaze, slight tang.
Maple Glaze Custard Filled Bar.
 I moved on to a raised bar, with a maple glaze.  It was light, soft, fluffy, classic raised donut.  The maple glaze was well distributed, sweet, and tasty.  But what I didn't realize is that this wasn't just a glazed bar ... it was a filled glazed bar! 
Cream Filling.
Inside was thick bavarian cream custard.  Well filled, nicely distributed throughout the bar.  A co-worker of mine loves filled donuts, so I handed this one off to him.  He took one bite and declared "that is a really good donut!"  He doesn't usually get very excited about food, so, this was saying something.


Bob's makes excellent raised donuts.  They are always light, fluffy, and airy.  My absolute favorites.
Raised Chocolate, Raised Glazed.
"A fluffy ring with a glazed frosting coating. Basically, the vanilla of donuts. It's not wild or creative. It's as simple as it gets. But sometimes, simple is all you want. "

Their description really sums this up well.  It is just a glazed donut.  Nothing more.  Except, well, its a really, really good glazed donut.

The raised dough is light and fluffy, not too greasy.  It is drenched in glaze, which is sweet and sticky, and coats the entire thing.  One of the best glazed donuts I've ever had, and, I might even pick this over a more decadent fritter in the future.

I've had these many times, and they continue to impress.  Light and airy, not too fried, always perfectly glazed.
Raised Chocolate.
"If the glazed ring is the vanilla, then the chocolate covered ring is the... well, chocolate. Ok, lame comparison, but come on, it's a fluffy ring with chocolate on it. What more could you want?"

One day, I shared a raised chocolate with a co-worker.  Again, same good base raised donut, with delicious chocolate ganache glaze.  It made me instantly want a Boston cream donut (which they do make, in the same style as the jelly - a raised chocolate glazed, sliced in half, and stuffed with cream.  OMG.  Someday.)
Cake Crumb.
"We're not sure who came up with the idea of putting crumbs on a donut, but it's undoubtably a winner! Soft sweet crumbs on top of a cake ring is about as good as it gets. "

For a friend, I got the cake crumb, which is the classic glazed with bits of cake on the outside.  Of course I snuck a bite.

The donut itself was still good, fluffy, soft raised dough, nice glaze, but, I actually didn't care for the cake crumbs on the outside.  Not my style.

Update: Many months later, the crumb donuts looked different.  They had a ton more crumbles on them, bigger chunks, more like a streusel.  So I tried again.  The base donut was again great, fluffy, sweet, not oily.  And I again liked the sweet glaze.  The crunchier, larger style cake crumbs were more successful, but I still wasn't a big fan.  I'm all about textures and that texture just doesn't do it for me.
Dozen Raised Donuts: Crumb, Sugar, Maple, Chocolate.
I did not try the the sugar coated (front left).  And I've already reviewed the crumb and chocolate.  Which leaves ... the maple!
Maple Glazed.
"Think maple can only be for pancakes? Think again! This is the kind of sweet goodness only the overly friendly neighbors up north could come up with. "

This was my favorite of the raised donuts.  Light and fluffy, not too fried.  Everything I liked about the classic raised was true here, but then it had a maple glaze, sweet, and more depth of flavor than standard glaze.  I'd gladly get another.

Update: I did get another.  And this time ... I didn't like the maple glaze.  It was ... too sweet, too maple-y.  I know, I know, I said it.  The base donut was still great, but, the maple glaze was just too much. 


Bob's also makes a wide assortment of cake donuts.  Cake donuts in general are never my favorite, and the same applies to Bob's.
Cake Donuts in all varieties
One notable aspect of Bob's cake donuts is that they are smaller than most.  The raised donuts might even be considered a bit large, but the cake, definitely on the petite side.

Cake donuts are available plain, with sugar coating, with cinnamon and sugar, with cake crumbs, with regular, maple, or chocolate glaze, with sprinkles ...
Maple Glazed Cake Donut.
I finally tried a cake donut.  It is very hard for me to resist just going for a fritter, or jelly filled, or even a raised donut, since Bob's does those so well.  But eventually, curiosity got the better of me.

I selected a maple glaze, since, well, maple!

It was a petite donut, like all their cake donuts.  Very dense.  A tad bit oily.  Well coated in maple glaze.

Not my style of donut, and I wished it had a buttermilk tang or something more to it.  Curiosity satisfied, but, I'll be going back to the raised.
Glazed Cake Donut.
Eventually, eventually, I even tried the plain cake donut.

The texture was good, moist inside, crispy outside.  It wasn't too oily.  The glaze was evenly distributed and added to the crisp exterior.  

But it had a lemon tang to it.  I really dislike lemon flavors in general.  A fine donut, but, just not the one for me.
Maple Glazed Sprinkle Coated Cake Donut.
I did say I was done with cake donuts, but, I actually visited Bob's in person one Sunday, and I had heard that you should always just get whatever is fresh.  So, instead of picking something I knew I'd like, or the very tempting looking bread pudding, I asked what was freshest, and the person taking my order pointed at a tray.  "Still hot" she said.  The tray had assorted cake donuts, which were the least interesting to me, but, who resists a hot donut?

My choices for a hot one were plain, chocolate coated, maple coated, or any of the above with sprinkles.  I like maple the best, and adore sprinkles and had never had a sprinkle donut from Bob's, so, that made my decision easy.

It was fine.  The warm donut was a nice touch of course.  But it was still just a cake donut.  The maple glaze was soft and sweet, it was interesting to see how the glaze changes as it gets cooler and harder.  The sprinkles were generic rainbow sprinkles, but more sweet.

Overall, fine, but I certainly wouldn't get another.
Chocolate Glazed Cake.
I don't know why I grabbed this, as I don't like chocolate glaze on donuts and I don't like cake donuts.  I like chocolate, but, I find it detracts from the donut.  Which is exactly how I felt about this.  The donut itself was crispy, fried, good enough cake donut, but, the chocolate overwhelmed.  Would not get again.
Cinnamon Cake.
"It's like the cinnamon roll in donut form except without getting your fingers all sticky. Using a good ole cake ring, we powder sugar and cinnamon to give the perfect balance between sugar and spice. "

I didn't really care for this.  A dense cake donut, I'm just not one for cake donuts.  Good cinnamon and sugar coating though.


And the last category I dub "specialty", basically, everything else that didn't fit above.
Apple Fritter.
"This isn't for the timid eaters. This is the heavy duty, apple filled, frosted coated hunk of a donut that will scare away anyone who isn't ready for some serious eating. "

I had my eyes on the king of donuts: the apple fritter.

Completely crusted in glaze, crispy and fried exterior, soft and moist interior.  The outside was a bit too fried for my taste, but I loved the interior.  It was soft and doughy, with moist pockets of apple.  There was lots of cinnamon between the layers, in fact, it is  one of the most cinnamon-y fritters I've encountered.

Overall, a very solid apple fritter, but, I wouldn't say it was mind-blowingly better than any other.

Update: I've since had many more of these. Turns out, there is a team that gets Bob's Donuts every Friday in my office, and sometimes they have extra, or I run into the guy who brings in the donuts and he offers me one on his way in (shh, don't tell his team he gives me one!), and I usually go for the fritter.  My opinion of it is always the same though.  I'm glad to have one, since I love fritters, but this one is always just a bit too oily for me.  The glaze is also not very impressive.  While I hate pretty much all the other donuts from California Smart Foods, they actually do a better fritter (stay tuned for that review soon ...)
Raspberry Jelly Filled Powdered Donut.
"You know this one, this is for those who like it messy. A choice of Raspberry or Lemon jelly and covered with a light glazed or powdered sugar, this is great for when you're looking for that punch of fruit flavor."

This turned out to be my absolute favorite.  Their jelly filled donuts are available in several varieties, with raspberry or lemon jelly, and glaze or powdered sugar.

This was the most unique jelly donut I've ever seen.  It wasn't a donut with jelly injected in the center as is standard, rather, it was a sliced in half, with jelly between the layers.  Like ... a bagel with cream cheese, except, it was a donut with jelly!  The jelly was really good, oozy, and had some seeds in it, not just goo.  The donut was a classic raised donut, hard to go wrong.  The whole thing was sweet and just totally satisfying.

Update Review: A few weeks later, I was able to snag another, this time, the glazed version. The glazed version uses a regular glazed donut, with a hole in the middle and everything, and, again is sliced in half and filled with jelly between the layers.  And, I again loved it.  The donut itself was so light and fluffy, and didn't taste weighed down with oil, at all.  The filling looks like generic jelly, but, it is oh-so-tasty.  A stunning donut.  I like the glazed version even more than the powdered sugar.
Raspberry Jelly Filled Chocolate Glazed Donut.
When I saw this donut, I thought I had finally, finally found the elusive Boston Cream.  It was clearly chocolate glazed.  It was sliced in half, just like the previous jelly donut, so I was sure it had filling.

And it did have filling.  It just ... wasn't custard.  Instead, it was filled with the same raspberry jam as the previous donut.

Once I got over the surprise of a jelly filled chocolate glazed donut, I settled in to enjoy it.  And enjoy it I did.

The chocolate glaze was a bit dried out and crunchy, but, not in a bad way.  It tasted really chocolately, and I loved it.  It also made me instantly wish they had chocolate pudding filled donuts too.  ZOMG.

The donut was a raised donut,  light and fluffy, but, also it seemed kinda fried on the bottom.  Oily, but, again, in a good way, like state fair fried dough.

And then, the raspberry jelly, seeds and all.  Sweet, fruity.

I wasn't a huge fan of the raspberry and chocolate combination, so I ate this open faced, easy to do since it was fully cut in half.

The top, a chocolate glazed fluffy donut with higher percentage of chocolate to donut than usually because it was only the top half, was super successful.

The bottom, a very fried oily dough with flavorful jam slathered on top, also successful.

I actually ended up loving this, as separates.  I'd get it again, just to tear it apart, but, really, I'm still on the lookout for one filled with custard ...
Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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