Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Sept. 23
In the restaurant industry, thirty years in business is dynastic. Thirty years of business in a vibrant, Uptown neighborhood that's reflecting the shifting tides of eat and drinking trends is an eternity. According to the serene donut merchant behind the counter, Donut Haven on Robinson Ave between Fourth and Fifth has been running "at least" that long. How cool is it to not know for exactly how long your business has been open?
The miniature shop is a little dark and spooky inside, a shadowy refuge in a busy neighborhood where custom has year after year worn away the need for flash or ostentation. The place has a worn down feel that's more like a comfortable old t-shirt than a haunted house, so don't be put off by the idea of a sepulchral donut shop, as Donut Haven is exactly as its name implies; a secret, sugary hideaway.
The wall of confection that runs along the left hand side of the store contains donuts of all kinds. Yeasted donuts and batter donuts. Filled, glazed, chocolate, and sugared donuts. Boston Cremes and cruellers to the heart's content. Donut holes, croissants, muffins, and sticky buns. They're all there.
And they're cheap! 85 cents a piece for a donut, $4.50 for six, $8.50 for a dozen. Fancy donuts and fritters are all of $1.50 each. Donut holes are fifteen cents a pop, or $4.49 for 45 of the bite-sized munchkins.
Croissant breakfast sandwiches in varying configurations are on the menu too ($2.99-$4.99), but with so many donuts, who needs eggs?
Naturally, coffee's cheap too. $1.75 for a large, which had better be enough. It's not going to be the best cup of coffee ever, of course, but definitely one of the cheapest. They can even make a mocha for $2.50 and, for all intents and purposes, a giant cup of hot chocolate mix and drip coffee isn't going to be all that much different than the drink of the same name at the popular coffee chain across the street. Yes, there's a little quality gap to cover, but does it justify twice the price and none of the hole-in-the-wall cool?
420 Robinson Avenue