Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Rook

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:

The Rook - Donut

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).

The Rook - Donut

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.

Red’s Place

Between two Ithaca establishments, Viva and Ithaca Ale House, sits a relative newcomer to Ithaca’s Aurora Street — Red’s. Their branding makes it seem like it should be a tavern-like brew pub, but the food is more generic-bar-food than gastro pub.

Since the quality of the ingredients in the savory dishes isn’t particularly high, we frankly didn’t have very high expectations for the donut. So the donut surprised us — leaving us with a fairly tasty impression.

Reds Place donut - Ithaca, NY

They’ve certainly made some good choices. The donut is fried to order so it’s nice and hot and crispy, and it’s served a la mode with Purity vanilla ice cream (can’t go terribly wrong there) and raspberry sauce (which was pretty tasty), creating lots of balance in flavor, texture, and temperature. The stand-out feature for both of us is the texture — crispy crust with soft, robust cakey inside.

Reds Place donut - Ithaca, NY

The biggest non-standout feature is the taste of the crust. It has less-than-ideal fry-oil flavor that resonates beyond the other nice flavors they’ve constructed, and leaves us less excited about the idea of having another.

We both scored the donut a 4 for texture. Laurel gave it a 3 for flavor and Duc a 3.5, giving Red’s an overall score of 3.5.