We’re eating our way through area bakeries, two at a time, on a quest to find the best doughnut in the Washington area.
In our debut last week, we sampled from Heller’s Bakery, a Mount Pleasant mainstay open for nearly a century; and Zeke’s DC Donutz, a new spot in Dupont Circle. In Week 2, we turn our attention to an old-school Arlington bakery and an Asian-fusion chain.
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
This corner bakery in Arlington has been offering a broad selection of baked goods — including some trip-worthy European breads — since 1975. One of the favorite parts of our visit was the bowl of free cookies by the front door, giving us something to nibble on while our order was being boxed up.
Address: 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington. 703-527-8394. www.heidelbergbakery.com.
Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The lineup: The case was filled with a mix of raised, cake and filled varieties. We bought nine kinds, including those jam-packed with lemon, raspberry and apricot; a double chocolate cake doughnut; cake doughnuts with powdered sugar and granulated sugar; a glazed doughnut; a glazed cruller; and a chocolate glazed.
Price: 95 cents-$1.05 per doughnut.
Average weight: 2.0 ounces.
Price per ounce: 29-54 cents.
The look: Glazes, icings and toppings were oftentimes sloppily applied. That was especially disappointing considering that the cakes and marzipans several cases over were daintily decorated.
How do they taste? Not much to write home about here. Artificial-tasting fillings were mostly lackluster, especially the toxic-yellow lemon that one reviewer thought tasted like Pine-Sol. Many of the doughnuts coated our mouths with an unpleasant oil. (Average score: 3.5 out of 10, putting Heidelberg in last place in our running totals.)
Best of the bunch: Powdered sugar with apricot filling. Even though the gelatinous goo was clearly mass-manufactured, bits of the stone fruit were mixed in, helping this doughnut stand out. (Average score: 4.9.)
Worst of the bunch: Glazed cruller. With a stale start, an unpleasantly eggy core and an oily finish, this ridged round was tough to swallow. (Average score: 2.3, even worse than our previous least-favorite doughnut, the Sexy Mexy from Zeke’s DC Donutz.)
With six locations in Maryland and Virginia, this Korean sweet shop and cafe aims to meld European and Asian traditions. The cafe offers variety, from breads and bubble teas to green tea cakes and French pastries, plus a few unexpected items, such as winning deep-fried potato-vegetable croquettes.
Address: 2089 Veirs Mill Rd., Rockville. 301-217-0003. www.shillabakeryusa.com.
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The lineup: There were only three options: a sweet rice doughnut ball with red bean filling, a plain doughnut with red bean, and a twist.
Price: 80cents-$1.25 per doughnut.
Average weight: 3.3 ounces.
Price per ounce: 30-39 cents.
The look: All of these pastries took on a mahogany hue in the deep-fryer, creating a dull, monochromatic uniformity.
How do they taste? Far less sugar than usual was used in these fried treats, which was a pleasant respite from some of the overly sugared doughnuts we’ve tried. Though you could taste the oil they’d been cooked in, it possessed a clean flavor that quickly dissipated. Nontheless, they’re not too exciting. (Average score: 3.9 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Twisted. Pleasantly yeasty with soft dough, it had a slightly sweet crunchy panko topping that earned this doughnut the blue ribbon. (Average score: 4.6.)
Worst of the bunch: Plain with red bean filling. Our reviewers were unimpressed by this straightforward pastry, which they found bland and boring. (Average score: 3.4.)
The running totals so far:
Zeke’s DC Donutz: 5.1
Heller’s Bakery: 4.1
Shilla Bakery: 3.9
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe: 3.5
Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7
Heller’s glazed twist: 4.9
Heidelberg sugar with apricot: 4.9
Shilla twist: 4.6
Heidelberg glazed cruller: 2.3
Zeke’s Sexy Mexy: 2.4
Heller’s chocolate frosted with sprinkles: 3.4
Heller’s glazed with sprinkles: 3.4
Shilla plain with red bean: 3.4