Read on for a thorough examination of the coolest, cleanest doughnut joint I’ve ever stepped foot in.
Upon our arrival in Portland, my mom and I knew we had to locate a Blue Star Donuts. There are a handful of locations around the city, one in LA and one in Tokyo. The one we went to near the Pearl district had warm sunlight flooding in from the tall windows covering half the shop, and the steady drumming of the XL stand mixer kneading away.
When we arrived around 10am, the line was not quite out the door yet, but we still had some time to decide on the doughnut varieties displayed behind glass next to the register before we had to order.
We ultimately went with this half dozen:
Hard Apple Cider Fritter
Valrhona Chocolate Crunch
Blueberry Bourbon & Basil
Almond & Chocolate Ganache
Meyer Lemon & Key Lime CurdCointreau Crème Brûlée
While we waited for our box to be assembled, I wandered the modestly sized operation, and I noticed a baker prepping a fresh mound of dough next to the coffee corner. When I asked him if I could take his picture, he said yes, and was very appreciative of my asking (I guessed he’s ended up on lots of people’s instagram feeds without consent).
Less than three minutes after ordering, our box was ready.
First up: Cointreau Crème Brûlée
Torched top, vanilla bean cream center, and orange liqueur poking out, ready for incorporation via pinching.
It was quite fun to bite into the crusty sweet top and land in a pillow of cream, all transported by soft and fresh brioche dough. This one’s a winner!
Next: Hard Apple Cider Fritter
Fritters are usually more dense than doughnuts since they’re typically made of the doughnut scraps and packed together once the rising in the dough has already occurred. These fritters are combined with an apple compote-looking mix, as shown in the second photo, further up.
The outside was sweet and crispy, and the inside was very moist and apple-y. However, I think the density was too much for my mom’s and my stomach. We also couldn’t taste the hard cider (perhaps it got completely cooked off). Not bad, but not their best.
Following: Blueberry Bourbon & Basil (BBB)
This doughnut was actually featured on one of the three covers of Bon Appétit’s May Travel Issue – for good reason.
This doughnut didn’t need any filling with the icing it came with. One bite and I got one big mouthful of summertime markets with the basil notes heading this train of flavor. The arresting blueberry burst came quickly after, and the combination was delightfully refreshing (but again, no alcohol). Plus, the crack of the icing when closing in is a great textural addition.
The Valrhona Chocolate Crunch was super fun to eat. It had the same filling as the crème brûlée doughnut, and the top was covered in fancy deep dark chocolate and pearls of chocolate covered rice crispies.
The chocolate ganache and almond doughnut was similar to the chocolate crunch doughnut, but without the filling, and with the crunch coming form the crushed almonds. Not too shabby.
When we got around to the Meyer Lemon & Key Lime Curd doughnut, it seemed a little ordinary in comparison to all the others, but I’m always happy with lemon in my sweets, and it was enjoyable.
Overall, our experience at Blue Star was one to remember, and probably to return to. I highly recommend making a stop if you’re ever in the area (including LA and Tokyo!). I’ll leave you with this accurate dough-piction of today in the social media world: