I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I love donuts. Maybe they're the exception because they overlap with my love of fried food. Truth be told (secret truth here), I haven't loved any of the donuts I've found in the Portland area. I think there might be a weird yeast/cake donut regional preference going on here (yeast for life).
Until recently, the best donut I had in Portland was one a friend brought out from the Coffee by Design on Washington Ave. It was a glazed chocolate donut and it was amazing. I have a strong suspicion it was from The Holy Donut.
My love for donuts collided with my fixation on the Cronut last weekend. Social media told me that Little Bigs was selling their version of the famed donut/croissant hybrid, pioneered by Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York. Since I'd made my own fantastic version last summer at the beach, I was eager to try some from a professional baker.
|Hello, Cronut stash.|
Little Bigs cronuts are fried-to-order and so are only available Sundays from 11-11:30AM. I arrived a little before go-time to find a line outside the shop. I laughed because it was slightly absurd to be standing in a line outside a shop in a stripmall in South Portland on a Sunday morning. I was excited, but nervous that they'd run out before I got mine.
When I finally got my turn in the shop (there was really only a line outside because the shop is so small), I could see owner Pamela Fitzpatrick Plunkett hard at work at the fryer. Seeing her big tray of faux Cronuts made me feel better until I realized people had called ahead to reserve them. My anxiety returned.
Finally, it was my turn. I ordered two Cronuts and an assortment of their donuts. The man who helped me said he'd never seen this many people in the shop before and looked a little pale when someone told him there was a line down the block outside the shop (only a slight exaggeration).
The Cronuts were fried, flaky, sugary, over the top - everything you'd expect. I mean, they're fried sugared croissants. Hello. Little Bigs' version is square with the donut hole placed on top, which seems to be their signature style.
They're so good, and I love how excited about them everyone is. But you know what? The stars of the show are there every day on the baker's racks waiting for you. Their donuts are freaking amazing (technical speak).
The apple caramel donut blew my mind. I thought it might suffer from too much or overly sweet filling. But no, it was perfect. Perfect, I say! I also had maple cruller, Boston Creme filled, and a glazed. They were all fantastic (except Boston cream, because it was Boston ALMOND cream, and I hate almond extract - my bad though).
So go for the Cronuts if you want. Call ahead to reserve some to avoid Sunday morning anxiety (that should not be a thing). But if they're sold out or you go at a different time, there's still plenty of amazing treats to be had at Little Bigs.