There's something about doughnuts (or donuts) that hold a special place in my dessert heart. Dunkin's chocolate-frosting stuffed doughnut of years past was a favorite of mine in the good ol' days (when I was blissfully ignorant to things like artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup and other deliciously evil ingredients)... I don't even think they make that variation anymore, but man it was amazing. I even find myself drawn to the shelves of chocolate glazed boxes of Entenmann's in the grocery store that are both nostalgic and delicious. The fact that they are almost always on sale causes my willpower to switch into overdrive... Now before you judge me for my taste in doughnuts, let me just say how happy I am about the recent uptick in local, fresh-made doughnuts on the food scene, a welcome addition to bakeries and dessert menus (and even weddings) everywhere. There's something about the fluffy cake-like interior of the doughnut, topped with various sugary glazes and toppings that is just lip-smackingly satisfying. Those golden dough rings also offer the perfect blank slate for creativity and unique flavor combinations both sweet and savory.
While there are various small-batch doughnut shops in the surrounding areas that specialize in house-made products, the only place you can find doughnuts in downtown Saratoga Springs is at Parkside Eatery. Situated on Phila Street between Putnam and Henry right behind Ben & Jerry's, Parkside Eatery is an off-shoot of Heidi and Michael Hoyt's successful Black Diamond Catering Company. The warehouse-like space features an open-kitchen and copious amounts of prepared foods as well as a full breakfast menu, made-to-order sandwiches, draft beers, various soups and house-made barbecue. Because of all of these varied and high-quality options, you may not have known about the hidden gems that come from Parkside's bakery or Glazed Bäkerei, German for bakery; not to mention, their fresh-made doughnuts are only made Friday, Saturday and Sunday, making them a hot [literally] weekend commodity.
Made entirely in-house from scratch with family recipes and using fine King Arthur products, Parkside's doughnuts are fresh out of the fryer and full of flavor. Because of the yeast present in the recipe, the doughnuts are dense and hearty, making them perfect for sharing, especially because you need to try as many flavors as possible. Varying day to day and based on what is on Heidi's mind, the flavors range from classic vanilla glaze and sprinkles to more unconventional maple glazed with bacon crumbles and everything in between: coffee with chocolate drizzle, salted caramel, peppermint mocha, peanut butter with chocolate fudge and more.
Because Parkside maintains high standards when it comes to quality and freshness, only a certain amount of doughnuts are made on the weekends and they almost always sell out. If you are willing to take that risk, the goodies go on BOGO at 3pm... On my visit, I had the chance to try all the available flavors which included maple bacon, vanilla glazed, blueberry glazed, lemon glazed, cinnamon sugar and the famous apple fritter, named the best “fruity doughnut” in the Capital Region. I normally (as unsnobbishly as possible) turn my nose up to fruity desserts, mostly when I am also faced with the option of a chocolate one, so I wasn’t thinking the lemon or the blueberry would be my favorites. After taking some hearty bites of each one (for research), I surprised myself by wanting to finish off the lemon glazed instead of the others. Flecked with tiny black specks of vanilla and glazed lightly with the tartness of lemon and a dusting of sugar, the doughnut satisfied my sweet tooth and also a bit of my savory side as well. The consistency of the doughnut was robust and didn’t crumble, the kind of doughnut that would hold up well being dipped into coffee. Now, just because I didn’t finish any of the other flavors certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t like them… each varied in flavor and none was too overpowering. The maple bacon was the (unsurprisingly) perfect combo of salty and sweet and the bacon, which is cured and smoked in house, was crispy and mildly smoky which countered the sugary maple glaze (made with local maple syrup from Mapleland in Salem, New York). The apple fritter and the cinnamon sugar were both somewhat lighter in texture and recalled memories of pumpkin hunting in the fall.
No matter the season though, make time on your weekend morning to pick up a bag of donuts and check in to sample the varying flavors as the seasons change. Remember, these guys sell out quick so get in there early for the first crack at them and maybe the doughnuts will still be warm…. Alright, now I’m hungry.