Sunday, June 07, 2009

Doughnut Forget About National Doughnut Day: Grace Restaurant's 3-Course Donut Tasting Menu

I believe I finally experienced dessert overload for the first time ever this weekend.

Always on the lookout for my interests and tastebuds, my friend J. Nash brought it to my attention that it was National Donut Day (last Friday, June 5th) and she had just the donut-filled festivities for us to honor this sugary celebration.

To commemorate this special high-calorie day, J. Nash and I made a reservation to partake in a gourmet doughnut tasting menu at the la-di-dah Grace Restaurant on Beverly Blvd. Due to the public’s high donut demand, Grace extended the doughnut-love throughout the weekend so we scheduled our donut dinner for Saturday night.

Before going, I had Willy Wonka’esque visions of servers parading around with heaping trays of assorted mini doughnut, beignets and donut holes; a psychedelic medley of shiny glazed, sugar rimmed, nut-encrusted, chocolate covered cream-filled options… Turns out doughnut tasting at Grace was a yummy yet much more civilized, white table-clothed affair.

Our reservations were at 6:45pm. While it was dinnertime—and chef Neal Fraser’s Iron Chef-winning menu offered many lovely options—in interest of our budget and saving room in our bellies, we opted for a doughnut-only dinner.

After an appetizer of some freshly baked, hot-out-of-the-oven bread served at the table, we waited hungrily for our first of 3 dessert courses.
The first—two mini doughnut brushed with a tawny gloss of salted caramel glaze—was my favorite. A perfect composition of salty sweetness and crispy softness. Accompanying the sweet doughy goodness was a scoop of homemade bourbon-laced pecan ice-cream and strawberries. Delicious.

Our second course was a larger, fluffy sugar-puff of a beignet filled with a pistachio cream with a side of chocolate buttermilk marble ice-cream and dried cherries. Not a huge fan of pistachio, I would have preferred a more traditional raspberry jam filled beignet and the homely-looking green hued pistachio cream oozing out of the donut didn’t help. However, the beignet’s yielding, pillowtop consistency and the euphoric effects of our Red Bull-like sugar high made up for the presentation and mild nutty flavor.

By the time our third and final doughnut course arrived, our blood sugar levels had already spiked and were well on their way down towards food coma. Already stuffed with a tummy full of friend dough, J. Nash and I worked hard at polishing our plates, dunking our simple, buttermilk brown butter glazed doughnut into the teacup of warm, rum-spiced milk before finally waving the white flag a couple of bites short.

Grace offered a wine pairing of various dessert wines with each course, but we just stuck to our water and rum-spiked milk.

As we rolled out of the restaurant an hour later, J. Nash and I both agreed that we love doughnuts and thoroughly enjoyed our doughnut tasting outing but probably got our doughnutty fill and won’t need another doughnut tasting for a while….or, at least until 2010’s National Doughnut Day.

Doughnut lovers out there, I would recommend tasting pastry chef, Monica Swan’s designer doughnut creations, however, in this case, less may be more; rather than downing 5 doughnut and 2 scoops of ice-cream in one sitting, I’d suggest stopping by on a Wednesday night during Grace’s Weekly Doughnut Night for a single doughnut dish. (The pistachio-filled doughnut is among a rotating selection of eight creations Chef Swan serves weekly along with doughnut-less sweets such as sticky toffee pudding with bruleed bananas and white-chocolate and strawberry tart with orange blossoms.)

Grace Restaurant
7360 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood. 323/934-4400
Three Course Doughnut Tasting Menu: $18
Regular Wednesday Doughnut Night Desserts:$12


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