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First time at Primo's doughnuts

I had to undo all the goodness of my workout this morning and headed straight for Primo's from the gym, literally, after perusing several threads about the merits of a Primo buttermilk bar on this board and the inability to fight off a powerful hankering for a doughnut today. Off I went down Sawtelle from Venice after exiting Bally's. I selected a buttermilk bar, a chocolate covered cake doughnut, and a cinnamon sugar cake doughnut.

I definitely thought the buttermilk bar was the winner. The chocolate-frosted cake one was a total bomb, sorry to say. Again, it was A bomb and not THE bomb. It tasted nothing like chocolate. I'm not sure what it was reminiscent of but it did not smack of anything evoking goodness for me. It had a strange chemical, cough medicine-like aftertaste. I think it might be one of those things that is an acquired taste (like durian, which I've never conquered, by the way), but still, I expect chocolate to taste at least somewhat chocolatey, and while it looked like chocolate, it tasted like anything but.....The cinnamon sugar doughnut was better although it was just a standard cinnamon cake doughnut I could've gotten anywhere IMO and pretty forgettable. The star was the buttermilk bar. As soon as I removed it from the bag, I was immediately hit by the aroma of earthy, sweet buttermilk and this sensation was heightened as I bit into its doughy inner layers. This is a very cakey, very dense, very "doughy" doughnut, so to speak. It was good, by all means, but it doesn't fall within my personal preferences for this particular pastry, which is my own problem I guess. I like a doughy yet airy interior and a crispier, almost flakier exterior. Also, and as stupid as this sounds, I like doughnuts that look like doughnuts, round with the hole in the middle. There's something about the soft symmetry and playfulness of it all that appeals to the kid in me and makes it more fun to eat. Also, I think the skin crisps up better in the oil with that particular shape, greater surface area of exposure to the oil. For me, fresh Southern Maid plain, glazed are my yardstick for the ultimate in doughnut delight. Unfortunately, they're only available, well, in the South. I don't know how they get the crispy little things to melt in my mouth in doughy goodness and sugary glaze.

Although it was delectable, Primo's did nothing for my doughnut hankering because it didn't really fit the bill of what a doughnut is for me. It is exactly what it is called: a buttermilk bar. I wouldn't be one bit surprised if I start getting hankerings for buttermilk bars, but as it stands, I think I'll look elsewhere in the future when I get urgings for a doughnut, but I'm not going anywhere near Winchell's or Dunkin Donuts. I'd take buttermilk bars anyday over either of those. In fact, the more I write about it the more I like it. I think I'll try the little doughnut place on Palms and Sepulveda, which I've read about here. Also, maybe I'll go back to Primo's and try their plain, glazed. I should've done that today....that might've hit the doughnut spot.

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  1. Oh no... here come those tears again... the pain... => One down, three to go...

    http://laweekly.com/eat=drink/counter...

    If one of these don't do it for you, then back to the land of Dixie you go for that Belle of the South...

    1 Reply
    1. re: bulavinaka

      lol, I thought of you as I wrote that review up. Your tears are premature. I definitely did enjoy the buttermilk bar, especially since I have let the experience settle in a bit. I plant to return to Primo's when I get a craving for something dense and cakey. Also, the powerful, buttermilk aroma that hit me when I pulled the bar out of the bag was a really unique experience. I'm not someone who gets bowled over by smells for some reason, although I know that olfactory plays a huge role in the enjoyment of taste. Texture is probably tops for me when it comes to things culinary, but there's no mistaking that buttermilk aroma...Thanks for the link! I've made a mental note of Donut Man in Glendora...

    2. I am a nut for donuts. Everytime I travel I have a local donut shop on my list of must trys. This is my LA list (short list). As for Primos. I love their Buttermilk bar. Perfect size, texture, taste and the glaze is as it should be -- glaaze, not drenched. The special donut at Primo's for me is the glazed donut. I have only had one other like it and that was in Boston. This glazed donut is in a special league of its own. The inside texture is different from other donuts -- like half cake, half raised. It is special. The list below mentions what I like at the places listed.

      The glazed at A.M. is very special and is the closest I have found that reminds me of the Helms truck with that magic long drawer full of glazed donuts. This glazed looks, smells, and taste just righjt but the texture of fresh snow is what a perfct glezed is about and A.M. does that right as well. Thet have both big round glazed and (are you ready?) square glazed. Special place.

      The Cinnamon Twist at Donuts Galore are also very special and once you dunk one in your coffee you will never enjoy your coffee as much again unless you have another one to dunk. Must go early because these are a sell-out every morning. I went this week and they were gone by 9:30 am. I was so angry that I had a apple fritter.

      A.M. Donuts (Glazed, Cinnamon Crumb on Cinnamon Twist - WOW, Buttermilk, Butterfly, Filled donuts, and more)
      34 W. Las Tunas Dr.
      Arcadia, CA 91007
      (626) 574-0160
      One Block West of Santa Anita Ave. Across the street form Rite Aid / Coco’s

      Donuts Galore (Best Cinnamon Twist, Apple Fritters, Glazed and more)
      1112 Via Verde (VON'S CENTER)
      San Dimas, CA 91773
      (909) 599-3848
      Monday-Saturday: 4:30 AM - 6 PM
      Sunday: 4:30 AM - 4 PM
      Top of Kellogg Hill, Exit at Via Verde on the 10 Fry and go east (or the 57 Fry and go West). On the South/West corner of Via Verde and Puente St.

      Donut Man (Anything & everything is special, The strawberry donut in Feb is a sell out no matter how many they make)
      915 E Route 66
      Glendora, CA 91740-3608
      (626) 335-9111
      East of S. Grand Ave., Cross Street: Elwood Avenue.

      Dennis Park Bakery (Another Must try, glazed, maple bars, jelly filled and more)
      15431 Devonshire St
      Mission Hills, CA 91345-2618
      (818) 891-3053

      3 Replies
      1. re: JeetJet

        Wow you really are a nut for donuts!! Thank you for all the details. I hope I get to try all your suggestions one day. They would all be a bit of a drive, but I'll keep the list handy in case I'm ever marginally close by.

        As interesting as the strawberry donut at Donut Man sounds in theory for me, I think I'll avoid it if I'm hankering for a plain, glazed. It will have to be one of those days when I just feel like experimenting and am not trying to fulfill some pre-fab expectation. Also, well, I don't care for strawberries in general, but it could surprise me!

        1. re: hch_nguyen

          Strawberries - no? Then how's about peaches? The Donut Man will be personally glazing the donuts with peaches once they're in season... maybe May or June? All depends on this wacky weather...

          1. re: bulavinaka

            I do like peaches better than strawberries, but aside from apple pie, or maybe a touch of a sweet, fruit drizzle on a cheesecake, I have never enjoyed the combination of fruit and dessert. I love fruits on their own and in yogurt and muffins as well as in more savory concoctions like pineapple fried rice, mango salsa, stuffing, or fresh salads but have NEVER cared for them in cakes, pastries, pies, ice cream, or chocolate. I dread chocolate-covered cherries of any sort and when given a box of Godivas, I pretty much don't touch any of the fruit-inspired stuff even though the fruitiness is pretty subtle. Admittedly, the only way I don't totally despise dark chocolate is when there are some fruity hints in it, and then I'll only eat it if I'm desperate.

            What can I say??? I'm wired differently, but I know my wires pretty well.... ;)

            That doesn't mean I won't give the Donut Man a fair shot, peaches, strawberries, and all!

      2. I should qualify this by saying I'm not a big donut eater, and I came into it a bit late in the game anyway. The first time I ever really became "donut aware" (in the chowhoundly sense) was when I ate my first Krispy Kreme a few years ago and was blown away by the airy texture. I mean I had eaten dunken donuts, entenmans, etc. before, but I had never paid them much attention. However even with this lack of donut awareness, I was able to tell that KK was different.

        So, having qualified my history, I think that dense texture you're referring to must be due to the 'old school' nature of Primo's whereas the new school donut Krispy Kreme camp is all about airy wispiness. Case in point, Bob's donuts at the farmers market. I tried their buttermilk donut for the first time a few weeks ago. My first impression-- dense! dry! This ain't no KK. But oh... what is this interesting flavor? I continued to chew, and the more a chewed it, the more my KK donut awareness got pushed further and further back. I really liked it! It wasn't really dry, so much as it's not as moist and light as a KK donut. I started thinking about what an absolutely perfect donut this would be to dunk in a cup of coffee-- all that density will soak up the coffee whereas a KK donut would disintigrate.

        The bottom line for me is that there was something really good to be found here, even if it defied my prefab KK expectation of what a donut was supposed to be (which makes no sense anyway, if in fact donuts are historically dense anyway-- or maybe it's just that LA-based donuts are historically dense. Who knows? Donut historians/geography majors out there?)

        Anyway, it seems that this is simply a generational thing. I'm sure that one day the dense donut will be en vogue again and in 2015 KK will start serving dense "old fashioned" donuts. Life is cyclical that way.

        Mr Taster

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          KK has died a lonely death at our work... when they were a relative novelty, everyone wanted them - as many as they could get, especially when the hot light was on telling everyone driving by that they were frying them up now.

          Once KK has made its donuts available even at drug stores, the magic seemed to have slipped from Frank Sinatra playing at Caesar's Palace to a has-been magic act scrounging for nickles at the lounge lizard bar. People kept bringing boxes of KKs but they would just sit. And now no one even bothers anymore.

          I'm more of buttermilk/old-fashioned type. The air-pocket raised donuts are ok for me occasionally but I couldn't personally handle KKs as they were way overboard on the sweet scale, and that's coming from a guy who used to east sugar by the spoonful as a kid...

          Keep giving those more dense buttermilk bars a try - it sounds like you're headed in the right direction already. If they are anywhere close to Primo's I think you'll be converted sooner than later.

          1. re: Mr Taster

            I know what you mean, Mr. Taster. I definitely enjoyed the buttermilk bars for what they are, but at the time I needed something to hit the plain, glazed sweet spot. That's no reflection on the quality or pleasure factor of the buttermilk bar.

            I have no clue as to what the history of donuts is with respect to dense vs. airy, but actually, my preference for Southern Maid came years before the KK craze. I never understood that whole craze to be honest. It was just another one of those things--good but not earth-moving. I thought they were too sweet, but they grew on me, and at times, I craved a subtler Southern Maid and other times, I craved a sweeter Krispy Kreme. I'm sure one day I will crave the dense, fragrant buttermilk bar at Primo's.

          2. I am the big fan of Royal Donuts, the place in the strip mall on the S/E corner of Palms and Sepulveda, between Julie's Pizza and the steam table Chinese food place. I love their cinnamon rolls, the very crispy glazed kind. Also really like their crumb donut, much lighter and more delicate, especially when really fresh.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              I've read that before... will have to give them a whirl. We shop regularly at TJ's across the street. Thanks!

              1. re: nosh

                Ah, you are the one....I actually passed by that place on my way to Primo's and told myself it would be next on my list....

                1. re: nosh

                  I tried Royal Donuts today and had a plain glazed. While it was nothing to write home about, it was fluffy and had a nice consistency and wasn't overly glazed. This was a really fat donut and I generally prefer them a little more petite, like KK size, but the size of this donut was appropriate somehow for its fluffy consistency.

                  She was very friendly, too, and stuck a sample of what I believe was some type of cinnamon glazed donut. The dough was a dark brown color. I like to support local places to me, so I'll go back and try the cinnamon rolls one day. I think I read somewhere that the place is Korean-run, but she definitely didn't look Korean to me for some reason.

                  1. re: hch_nguyen

                    Wow, I'm really happy you tried Royal and found things to like about it. I've also had the glazed donut there and I don't think it is the best thing they do. And unfortunately the criossant-like roll I had there once was subpar. Besides the cinnamon roll, which is of the very large and crispy-fried glazed kind, the crumb donuts are excellent. But the way the proprietress treats me, unfailingly pleasant and accomodating, as are her husband and daughter on less frequent occasions, really makes me enjoy supporting them. I gotta think the profit margin is from the lottery ticket sales.

                2. LOVE the Primo buttermilk bars so much I haven't even strayed from them to try the others.

                  BTW, theres a small donut shop in Thousand Oaks, CA at the NW corner of Moorpark Road and Avenida de Los Arboles that adjoins Rite Aid at its east wall. While most of their donuts are above average, there is a barely-glazed cake donut with oodles of tiny wild blueberries throughout...TDF. It's not the Vienna bakery kitty corner, and I'm sorry to not even know their name...all I ever see when I visit my folks is the "donut" sign. :-)

                  Actually, their apple fritters aren't bad either, dark, lots of crispy bits, and not at all greasy.

                  Have a great Sunday!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: shelleykelly

                    primo's are pretty great, great cinnamon rolls too.