The Dish: Eat Dessert First
In the world of New Orleans food trends, we’re always hearing about burgers, hot dogs and housemade charcuterie, which is fine – fabulous even. But lately there’s also an artisanal pastry renaissance happening around town, featuring locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and it’s possible you haven’t heard.
Here are four bakeries that are turning out must-eat treats now:
Blue Dot Donuts. Walk into this Mid-City doughnut mecca on any given morning (they open at 6 a.m., early birds) and prepare to weep. It is that glorious. Sure the dining area is small, plain and hardly anything to write home about. But one look at the case of crullers, Bacon Maple Long Johns, doughnut holes and colorful array of artisanal doughnuts and any heart will melt like hot icing. The glazed doughnuts here are sinful, and the buttermilk doughnut is so sweet it’s best shared. Want to see a child turn into a ghoul this Halloween? Blue dot has Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwiches; that’s right, two doughnut of your choice – seasonal options include Pumpkin and Sweet Potato – and a heaping scoop of New Orleans Ice Cream in the middle. Just like a good cheese elevates a crappy wine, Blue Dot’s cake doughnut – the blueberry and strawberry flavors are especially of note – works wonders for a mediocre cup of coffee, which is a good thing to know for work parties. On a gorgeous October day, take a stroll over to Blue Dot. They have a tiny seating area out front overlooking the large oak trees on this section of Canal Street and, if you’re lucky enough to avoid a line, get a hot doughnut and freshly brewed coffee. There’s no better way to welcome a cool fall morning.
The Shake Sugary. This little-known bakery on St. Claude Avenue in Bywater is housed in a small brick building that used to be a barbershop. The only indication of the business is the small chalkboard placed out front every Saturday and Sunday – the only days it’s open – by owner and baker Dawn Snead. The Maple Bacon Sweet Potato Biscuit ain’t your average biscuit: a tad sweet with bits of glazed bacon, the sweet potato adds a density to the biscuit and resists the urge to dry out – no need for butter here. All breakfast items, including muffins and scones, require a minimum half-dozen order. The giant coconut macaroon cookies are especially of note. You don’t see these cookies very much anymore and they’re somewhat of a throwback, but from a bakery named after a legendary blues lady, Elizabeth Cotten, it’s edible Americana at its best.
Adrian’s Bakery. Central City has long been in need of some sweet loving, or sweets-loving anyway. In August, Adrian’s Bakery opened for business in the Franz Building on O.C. Haley Boulevard, renovated by the Good Work Network, a nonprofit that provides support to minority and women-owned small business. Known for their elaborate cakes – from a Dooney and Bourke handbag to a diaper bag – the bakery caters to sugar lovers. Come Mardi Gras time, the bakery will be a must-try for King Cake. Until then, éclairs, turtles and praline cake – pound cake topped with a praline topping – will have to do.
What about scones? Two Uptown destinations, Il Posto Cafe and Tartine, make outstanding versions of the pastry, rotating seasonal ingredients.
TRY THIS: The Buttermilk Drops at Buttermilk Drop. Before Mr. Henry made it big in Beasts of the Southern Wild (he’s even been on Oprah Super Sunday, y’all), he was known for his delicious fried and glazed drops, which are still the best.
Adrian’s Bakery | 2016 O.C. Haley Blvd. | 875-4302 | Adrians-Bakery.com
Blue Dot Donuts | 4301 Canal St. | 218-4866 | BlueDotDonuts.com
Buttermilk Drop | 1781 N. Dorgenois St. | 252-4538 | ButtermilkDrop.com
Il Posto Cafe | 4607 Dryades St. | 895-2620 | IlPostoCafe-nola.com
Shake Sugary | 3600 St. Claude Ave. | 355-9345 | ShakeSugary.com
Tartine | 7217 Perrier St. | 866-4860 | TartineNewOrleans.com