The Rook opened up in the winter, so we gave them till spring to get their game together before trying and harshly critiquing their donuts.
Of course, we had a bit of a bias going in, knowing that Gentry of the late Belly (the doughnut haven Ithaca loved and lost), is rocking the Rook kitchen.
So we started with dinner — perfectly crafted confit duck nuggets, a delightfully springy asparagus and farro salad with fresh and bright homemade cheese, and an extremely disappointing “herbivore plate” (We’re sorry, Rook, but warmed peas, al dente white beans, and a few charred slices of onion does not a happy herbivore make).
Then, finally, it was donut time.
Lemon buttermilk doughnuts:
They were pretty darn good. The lemon flavor was pure, nostalgicly reminding me of the lemon cake my grandmother used to make, and reminding Duc of pound cake. The texture of the crust was excellent, and the flavor of the crust was excellent too, which frequently has a tendency to get bogged down by the flavor of whatever oil is used to fry the donut.
The lemon glaze is classic, but it’s not one you might expect to find on a donut, which makes its presence delightful and fun. The lemon curd sauce that’s generously plated with the (also generous) 3 donuts is a great accompaniment to the rest of the lemon flavor.
The only issue we have is that it’s a little dry. Although the texture of the crust is great, the texture of the dough is rather crumbly and requires sauces to make up for it (the “Kentucky Mimosa” also helps).
Although it might sound like a minor complaint, the texture of the dough is one of the most important things, so we were disappointed to find it needed a bit more work.
Overall, though, we were happy to report good things from the Rook, although we would hesitate to recommend it to vegetarians, and it’s certainly not for vegans, so maybe they should just take that herbivore plate off the menu, lest other vegetable-loving carnivores like ourselves continue to be tempted to taste it.
The Rook’s donuts earned a 5 from both of us in flavor, and a 4 in texture. And just like that, became Ithaca’s number one donut. We’ll return to the Rook when the dessert rotation changes and a new type of donut appears.