If the Food Network’s “Donut Showdown” is any sign of trends, doughnuts are definitely coming up in a big way. Just look at the list of new doughnut shoppes that have opened and others that have gain traction. “Parallel 49” is one such cafe with their gourmet fried rings of dough. With two locations we were at the one on Main and 13th. I was lucky enough to pull into one of four metered parking spots, just beside their outdoor patio.
With its popularity I was not surprised to walk in and face a line. The cafe has a modern warehouse feel to it. With red brick walls, planked rafters, mental low hanging lamps, and waxed wood everything else.
The room is staggered with various seating arrangements. Large high tops and counters by windows make the perfect shareable surface. They save space with communal sitting, and make an ideal solution for students and writers to come in and have a space to work from. There was a handful of those in today. Two tops and four seaters gave families and friends the possibility to sit and chat together. There is even a lounging area with couches by a brick fire place. The lighting here was more romantic: a lit up sign quality “49”; and dim bulbs dripping from cords.
And on a hot day like today you can enjoy the direct sun above your head on their side walk patio, just as we did.
With their popularity growing “Parallel 49” offers their own line of coffee and coffee accessories for sale. Gathered for show across the right wall, it makes for a fairly handsome display. For those who love it so much that they want to take it home, you can even buy one of their t-shirts. Various fair trade coffee beans, their signature teal coloured cup and saucer in regular and miniature espresso sizes, metal creamers, and glass cups.
Your choice of doughnuts are displayed elegantly behind glass. Laid out in specially designed drawers, crafted with built in cooling racks for bottoms. With no menu you rely on ordering based on looks alone. Through each type of doughnut was given its own name card to help. Arranged in no particular order, though the feature doughnut stood out, being extra colourful and up front and first.
The “Blueberry cake” would be the first that your eyes gazed at. “Cake”, being the correct description for this treat. Dense, thick, and decadent it was a more vigorous chew. Striking with its deep plum coloured icing drizzled across and its bold blue coloured middle. With a caramelized cinnamon and sugar topping that gave it a crispy outer shell, and whole blueberry bits folded right into the dough, giving it pops of juice. Though despite its vibrant colour, it was no reflection on taste. I was hardly able to make out any of the promised blueberry flavour.
“Long john”, a classic redone with vanilla bean infused custard cream. Cream filled end to end to ensure every bite in came filling oozing out. The chocolatey layer on top was semi sweet, so despite its looks it really wasn’t so sweet that it would overwhelm everything else. I enjoyed most the consideration taken to create the decorative uniform pattern on top. They certainly took this doughnut staple to the next level.
“Peanut butter and jelly”, had I know it was this good I would have ordered more. Peanut butter on top, filled with jam inside. Raspberry jam pipped at two points for more even distribution. This creation brings together the best of PB&J into one portable bite. Its crunchy and chunky honey-like butter and its sticky sweet jam accent. I prefer a 3:1 ratio when it comes to peanut butter and jam and this was pretty close. With fluffy baked batter this was better than any peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A more grown up taste for the kid in you.
“Strawberry rhubarb”. Powdered jelly doughnuts are usually my favourite so I had to try this one. Looking at the cross section, visually this was not a lot of jelly. Once again filling each doughnut at two points allowed for a bolder jelly presence; but this picture is fairly accurate. With such a large doughnut 1/4 of it failed to see jam, and as a result was discarded. I willingly allowed the thick dough go to waste, there wasn’t much taste without the filling.
The “Lemon Bismarck” was similar to the above, but with a more fair jelly to dough ratio. The lemon was tart, sweeten by the sprinkling of sugar on top. Similar to a lemon meringue pie, but it could have used some meringue. Though this granulated sugar coating was preferred over a drippy glaze.
“Apple maple bacon fritter”. Once a rarity, bacon and maple are no longer strangers to the dessert or sweet snack scene. Though no longer the edgy mash up that it was there years ago, now you almost expect a successful doughnut place to feature a bacon anything one time or another. With this one you immediately get the distinctive char quality from the salty bacon shards sprinkled on top. A nice texture against the spongy dough, crispy ends and chewy edges. The bacon’s salty nature is balanced out by the sticky syrup glaze and the sweetened apple chunks. Opposites that definitely attracted in this savoury and salty mix up. Such a generous coating of all the above has the ingredients tasting like they were braided within the dough itself.
“Chocolate croissant”. A light croissant baked golden brown with chunks of chocolate embedded within its layers. This was best slightly heated so that the pockets of chocolate melted and creeped into each pore of flaky pastry.
The “Beignets” were by request only, only good served hot and fresh they needed 10 minutes to prepare. And with the work involved from skilled chefs they were only available between 11-7pm. These were traditional New Orleans style doughnuts dusted with icing sugar and served with creme anglais, chocolate caramel, and a sour cherry compote. This were air light pillows of dough. Spongy and fluffy on the inside, but nice and crispy on the outside. Though compared to the treats before these seemed to lack a flavour all their own, a generous scooping of the sauces was an easy remedy, though strangely we were given two spoons for the three sauces.
“Espresso milkshake”, a double shot blended with vanilla ice cream. Although I am not a big fan of strong coffee, I do enjoy its essence when partnered with ice cream. And this was made better with the sprinkling of espresso chips on top.
I eat my doughnuts with a fork and knife, something I grew up watching my dad do and have kept doing as I appreciate having my hands clean and syrup free. Yet with no place, for those like me, to grab cutlery you need ask the clerks behind the counter. Something that much be common as eating with your hands then typing on laptops and texting on hand held devices must be a nuisance.
When it was time to leave, with no signs visible and no trays in sight I brought our used dishes to the back of the counter. I was hoping to help the staff in cleaning up my own mess. My aid was received with annoyance, how dare I interrupt the personal conversation of three men in between doling out orders for paying customers. The food was good, but yet again I regret tipping the average 15% for no services rendered. The taking of my money, the boxing of my doughnuts, the word I was given for assuming that the wooded numbered block the cashier gave me meant my drink and our beignets would be brought to our table.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The doughnuts are pretty original, I prefer their soft melty textures over other more dense gourmet doughnuts I have had elsewhere. With an ever rotating line up, chances are you will always find something new to try. Though as your standard coffee shop setting, I prefer taking my order out to enjoy elsewhere. Though they aren’t cheap, be prepared to pay the price of opulence for decadence. Don’t deny your cravings.