When I was a kid, every trip to Canadian Tire or Home Depot was rewarded with a treat. My dad would pull into the drive-thru at Tim Hortons and order one maple dip doughnut for us to share. Thank god it wasn’t first thing in the morning on our way to hockey practice or we would be a glorified Timmy Ho’s commercial. This fostered a love of the treat deep in my soul, and though I no longer eat the cardboard-esque doughnuts from Canada’s most iconic coffee shop, I am always in search of a new favourite.
I spent the last two years living in Vancouver and had spent significant time in search of my favourite Vancouver doughnut (Cartems Donuts came out the victor, just in case you were curious), but now that I’m back in Edmonton, and there are a couple hot new doughnut spots on the scene, I figured I’d try to find my Edmonton favourite.
I was back in Edmonton last year for a visit, and a friend took me to Doughnut Party for the first time. There was a huge line winding its way out of the store and onto the sidewalk in front. I expected my friend to share my dismay at the idea of waiting in such a line but instead, he just got out of his truck and stepped obediently in behind a rather large woman wearing an ENTIRELY fuschia outfit, and I mean entirely, right down to her socks and shoes. We got our doughnuts and they did not disappoint. The lavender sugar-dusted doughnut was hands down my favourite. I had never had lavender in a doughnut before and the combination of the floral from the lavender, sweet from the sugar, and savoury dough of the doughnut itself was a walk-off home run.
I decided to give Doughnut Party another go and compare it to another shop that had generated some buzz, Destination Doughnuts. I made my way to both shops and picked up a half dozen.
Doughnut Party seems to be all about fun. I mean, party is right there in the name. The storefront is bright and colourful and the staff friendly and cheerful. I got one of each flavour. They only had 6 to choose from, although admittedly, I got there quite late so they might have had more selection earlier in the day. Our Contenders: Apple Fritter, S’more, Key Lime, Birthday Cake, Strawberry Glaze, and a Cinnamon Twist.
Destination Doughnuts has a more sophisticated vibe. It had quite a few more flavours to choose from which made the experience a little more enjoyable. They also have seating available if you want to have your doughnut to stay. The staff were incredibly friendly and steered me towards some of the crowd favourites, and they did not disappoint. Our Contenders: S’more, Creme Brulee, Canadiana (maple dip), Vanilla Dip, Oreo, and Toblerone.
I cut the doughnuts into small pieces and tried a few varieties from each shop, I wish I could eat 12 doughnuts but each shop bakes a pretty sizable version. I decided to compare the S’mores doughnuts because it was the only flavour that both shops carried.
Let me just start off by saying that both shops are incredibly delicious, they both make the retail experience fun, have friendly staff and their price points are almost exactly the same (half a dozen was 25 cents cheaper at Destination).
Overall, I preferred Destination Doughnuts. Their doughnuts had little touches to add texture and depth that overall just stole the show. Looking at the S’more doughnut alone it’s easy to see why. Destination Doughnuts S’more was dipped in chocolate, coated in graham crackers, and topped with whipped toasted marshmallow. Doughnut Party’s S’more flavour was dipped in chocolate and topped with little mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and skor bits.
While I always appreciate a good homage to childhood, and the little mini marshmallows are definitely that, the fun-loving Doughnut Party S’more just couldn’t compare to Destination’s.
I thought the dough at Destination was much better. It was savoury and not overly sweet, the perfect canvas for their multitude of flavours. Their Creme Brulee doughnut was filled with vanilla custard and topped with crunchy caramelized sugar. I absolutely love that they took a very difficult, high-class dessert and found a way to make an absolutely delicious average joe version that would win over even the most discerning French palate.
Doughnut Party’s Key Lime doughnut was my favourite of the half dozen from there. Sour desserts have always been a particular love of mine and the icing was aggressively tart, perhaps too much for some, but I thought it all balanced quite nicely. Doughnut Party has really captured the essence of fun even right down to their logo and brightly coloured box.
Destination Doughnuts seem to really understand how to use texture and balance to create the perfect bite. The Canadiana Doughnut is the one I’ve been dreaming about since that day. It was maple dips that first ignited a deep love for the treat, and this one, aptly christened “the Canadiana”, is phenomenal. There is a crunchy coating around the outside I couldn’t quite identify (I wish I had asked), but again the shop was using texture to create a more evolved and interesting treat. I would highly recommend the next time you are on 124th street stopping by and trying a Destination Doughnuts.