Maybe it's the Anaheim boy in me, but I always find something reassuring, even comforting, in going to Newport Beach and enjoying a plain ol' doughnut. Not completely plain, of course, but old school: the kind of shiny sugar rush that blue-collar workers gorge on for that sunrise adrenalin jolt, that office bosses buy by the dozen to curry the goodwill of their workers. No cupcake, no high-end thing, but the real deal. The rich might be different from you and me, but it's nice to see them eat glazed, sprinkles and maple bars just like the rest of us.
Newport and its communities, surprisingly, are doughnut-rich: Seaside Bakery, Dough Boy, Dad's and more than a few others are the shrines to frying where old money mingles with surf bums. But the best one of them all is also the unlikeliest: Rose Bakery Café, a gleaming piece of Corona del Mar bliss on PCH. Their breakfast burritos seem like the best summation of the restaurant: large, sure and delicious (the eggs, marshmallow-fluffy, just might be the best scrambled take in the county) but just too clean, too made-up—like its core customers of retirees and women whose greatest daily dilemma is which yoga pants to wear during afternoon shopping. You can enjoy a good, healthy breakfast and lunch here, with many freshly made sandwiches and at prices that belie its ritzy ZIP code, but the hungry soul is better off a couple of streets down over at Gallo's.
Or (cue Oscar Bluth from the late, great Arrested Development) . . . is it? Even if you stop in and are turned off by the bougie atmosphere, Rose Bakery's doughnuts beckon from their trays behind immaculate glass cases: bloated, glistening with cholesterol. Bear claws are, predictably, shaped like a cartoonish paw—but what you don't expect is the hint of vanilla accentuating the almond-flavored glaze, holding crunchy, sweet apples; it's like the legendary McDonald's baked apple pie hidden inside a glazed. Their original glazed is sticky but never cloying; cinnamon rolls look like a grand vortex of gluttony; apple fritters, gnarled and fragrant, like some Granny Smith fossil. You don't have to worry about freshness here—their day's batch is almost always gone by one.
And the fanciest doughnuts? For Fourth of July, they decorated chocolate-glazed ones with red, white and blue sprinkles to form a star. Doughnuts are supposedly going to replace cupcakes as the next foodie bakery trend, and too many of Rose's customers might sport three-figure threads, but the doughnuts here are eternal, immaculate, for the masses who leave the buzz game for the bees.
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This column appeared in print as "Dough-Right Man."