Donut Friend opened up last week in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. The shop is owned Mark Trombino who, according to Wikipedia, is a music producer for bands like blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World. This caught my interest right away. Plus, his donut shop specializes in customized donuts. Customizing donuts? I’m in.
I called in advance to make sure all the donuts would be available until they closed (they officially opened up on the day I was planning to check it out). The man I spoke to confirmed it and we decided to head up there. When we arrived at noon, there were only four types available and in very limited quantities: vanilla cake, chocolate cake, gluten-free glazed and donut holes.
Undeterred, I ordered a vanilla and chocolate cake made to-order. It’s an assembly line process: pick your donut and you’re moved down the line to choose your fillings, glaze and toppings. There’s a wide variety of choices for each and only a glass partition separates you from the person assembling your order. But the acoustics in the shop are horrible for donut ordering. It may be fine for bands but doesn’t work well in this environment. Other people’s conversations bounced off the walls and I found myself repeating my order and questions going unanswered. Between the myriad of choices and confusion, it was grueling. I came out with two donuts totaling $7.50.
The vanilla cake donut filled with peanut butter and jelly and topped with a plain glaze and Butterfingers was $3.50. The chocolate cake donut filled with pastry cream and topped with plain glaze and dollop of cookie butter was $4. In retrospect, I should have put more thought into the assembly of each (how each component would work with each other) versus cost, but again, there was a lot of confusion.
They were fine donuts that had a good, moist crumb but it was the choices that lured me in and unfortunately is its downfall. I think a paper slip allowing you to check off choices with prices for add-ons would’ve prevented many of the problems I encountered. It would also solve the blank-eyed stares of other customers trying to figure out the menu and avoid potential order backup during traffic spikes.
Donut Friend also offers “compilations” with cute names that echo other bands. Walnut Voodoo is a traditional donut with cream cheese, walnuts and maple syrup ($4) and Chocolate from the Crypt is a chocolate cake with chocolate glaze, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and chocolate shavings ($3). I had my heart set on one of the filled donuts like The Jelly Sound (ricotta cheese and strawberry jam with olive oil) but didn’t want to settle on a gluten-free donut. I would have like to have seen some of these pre-assembled and ready on a tray by the unadorned donuts.
Two donuts for people two people were not enough. We also ordered donut holes which are nine for $3. Much like their regular donuts, the donut holes were put into a clear plastic container and had more than the six we ordered. The donut holes were good but nothing out of the ordinary.
The design and interior are very chic — very much what I expect of a high end donut shop. Even the mural inside reflects the cutesy name.
The concept for Donut Friend follows the trend of customizing your food as I’ve seen in frozen yogurt, burgers, etc. But between the price point, the trip and ordering confusion, I don’t see myself returning in the near future unless there’s a need to revisit Galco’s Soda Pop Stop down the street.
5107 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90042