Steve Braunias: The man who ate Lincoln Rd's doughnut dilemma

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Steve Braunias is on a mission to eat at each one of the 55 food joints on Lincoln Rd in West Auckland. • Episode seven: Hollywood Bakery and Little Sister
Lincoln Rd, as that great, teeming bazaar of the people's food, is awash in doughnuts. Photo / Michael Craig
Lincoln Rd, as that great, teeming bazaar of the people's food, is awash in doughnuts. Photo / Michael Craig

The man who ate Lincoln Rd has the maths on doughnuts. I estimate I've eaten about 20 every year since I was five. I'll help you out: that's 1000 doughnuts. Let me say at once that I quote this figure with enormous pride. Not everyone can measure their life in doughnuts.

Lincoln Rd, as that great, teeming bazaar of the people's food, is awash in doughnuts. I scoffed two this week from two completely different cafes - Hollywood Bakery, and Little Sister, which is actually around the corner from Lincoln Rd, and probably fancies itself as a little bit above it all.

O Hollywood Bakery! O mysterious claim to glamour. There's nothing remotely Hollywood about this successful franchise, which has 45 cafes throughout Auckland, and another three in Hamilton. It's basically a greasy spoon. It's cheap and cheerful, and justly famous for its offer of a free muffin with coffee.

My favourite Hollywood Bakery is downtown, in Wyndham St. They do an amazing sausage wrapped in something like a croissant. You should try it at once. It's at the far left of the warming tray, closest to the front window.

It wasn't on offer at Lincoln Rd. However the cafe did have an interesting looking sausage thing called a cabonossi ($3.80), the cajun chicken panini ($6.50) looked worth a try, and the lemon castella cake ($3.40) was the best sponge I've seen in years.

But you can't go past a doughnut. I ordered what may have been specimen number 1,001 for $3, and took it to my table with a cup of tea.

Lincoln Rd Hollywood Bakery is a franchise literally in the shadow of another franchise: the Warehouse. It cowers beneath the Red Shed like a dog.

The relationship seems fraught. No less than three notices were taped to the bakery's toilet advising Warehouse customers that they couldn't just barge in and use it. They had to use the one in the Warehouse, or if that were out of order, they had to ask permission to use the toilet for Warehouse staff. I will read any kind of literature but I think their epic toilet narrative needed editing.

To the doughnut. It was dry. It was bland. It didn't have enough icing sugar on it. But then everything was transformed once I got to the fresh cream and squirt of raspberry.

It was like a tidal wave of goodness. It created a kind of symphony; I could hear trumpets, drums, possibly even a bassoon, as the cream and raspberry squirt combined to work its magic on the doughnut. My life in doughnuts, I reflected, had been well spent.

READ MORE: Steve Braunias rates: • Sal's PizzaSierra cafeMoto Sushi

A few days later I went with the family to Little Sister behind Lincoln Rd on Central Park Drive. I'm told it's the best café in West Auckland.

It was packed and noisy and happy. It had Star Trek toys - I've never seen a Lieutenant Uhura doll before - and creative handwriting on the blackboard menu. The food was fresh, bought from local suppliers, and the eggs were free-range. This and that was gluten free.

Emily had a green smoothie served in a mason jar. Minka had hot cakes with blueberry lemon something. I had the hash with a cup of tea. The bill: $45. All good, and then we shared a doughnut.

It was a weird mirror image of the Hollywood Bakery doughnut. That is, the doughnut itself was beautiful, sweet, moist, tender, and there was a lot of it, too. But the filling was custard. Custard! In a doughnut! Ridic. Custard belongs in - duh! - custard pies. It has no place in or even near a doughnut.

Emily and Minka claimed it was delicious, but they have eaten far, far less than 1000 doughnuts, and their opinions are invalid.

To the ratings. Hollywood Bakery gets a five out of 10 for the doughnut, and a perfect 10 for the fresh cream. Little Sister gets a perfect 10 for the doughnut, and a minus 10 for the custard. I'll help you out with the maths: that's a big fat zero. The doughnut governor has spoken.

•All views expressed are the author's.

- NZ Herald

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