We have met our new mini-doughnut robot overlord, and its name is Donut Byte Labs.
Look, I love me some Pip's robot-made mini-doughnuts straight off the boiler—luscious cake rings still hot from the cooking, preferably drizzled with sea salt and honey, served up by perfectly charming people who seem to like good music. But the mini-doughnut has always had an inherent weakness: The urge to serve the doughnuts piping hot limits the flavor possibilities, even though many don't eat the doughnuts till they arrive at their office, school or sticky-fingered front car seat. I visit Pip's like I do a taffy maker at the coast, reveling in the freshness.
But it isn't merely a novelty act. Case in point: the maple bacon. As a doughnut, this was never so much a good idea as it was a can't-lose gimmick. But Donut Byte tops the maple frosting and hickory-smoked bacon crumbles with…actual maple syrup. This is a promise finally redeemed. It is heaven. The sea salt and caramel flavor, likewise, is sticky with actual caramel layered across the top of the doughnut, and crunchy with salt flakes big as a baby's fingernail.
But the best flavor, by far, is a creme brûlée that actually mirrors that dessert's texture, ever so slightly torched on top so you can feel the satisfying crack of the caramelized surface beneath your teeth. While the creme brûlée at Blue Star is a custard filling (with charming Cointreau injection, sure), here it is like receiving a teaspoon of the actual dessert—texture included—atop a little fried cake.
But note that the time it takes to make those dozens means you're much better off ordering ahead than showing up and asking for one, which may take 10 to 15 minutes—the cart can't keep overstock, like your average doughnut shop. But for a $6 basic mixed assortment—from plain to many-layered to whimsical test doughnuts—or a $10 "advanced" dozen that includes only the goofball monstrosities, it is well worth the wait.
Order this: The $6 basic assorted dozen.
Best deal: The $2.50 plain-doughnut dozen or $4 powdered dozen.
EAT: Donut Byte Labs, 12 SW 4th Ave., 801-7321, donutbytelabs.com. 8 am-1 pm Thursday, 8 am-1 am Friday, 10 am-1 am Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.