The Doughnut Department by Wendy Johnson
My grandmothers loved them. My mum loved them. And I love them. Fritters have been part of my family’s treat line up for decades. A great fritter is hard to find in Canberra, but I’ve cracked the code. They’re now available at the Doughnut Department, which opened a couple of weeks ago in one of the city’s newest hotspots, No Name Lane.
Doughnuts are popping up everywhere, at markets, in cafés and even in restaurants. But these are very special—artisan doughnuts through and through. Hand cut with care. Yeast-raised and made daily with top-notch ingredients (mostly locally sourced).
Chef Nathan Frost, who spends up to five hours a day making these delicious delights, says this style of doughnut is unique to the capital. “They’re larger than your average doughnut,” says Nathan. “The fillings and toppings are artisan and we really play with flavour combinations.”
I openly confess to road testing a fair few and only wish my grandmother and mum were still here to try one style of fritter—apple, white chocolate and lime leaf. Now that’s an addictive flavour combo. The Doughnut Department has been cranking out more doughnuts as demand quickly grows, breaking their own records as each day passes.
Some versions are sweeter than others. Think old fashioned buttermilk. Chocolate, cacao nibs and black sea salt. Dulce de leche with toasted almonds. Cinnamon sugar. Vegan raspberry jam. Vanilla bean glaze. Cute doughnut holes in a six-pack are perfect if you want just a ‘wee sweet treat’.
Mostly everything at The Doughnut Department is made in-house, with love. A small but interesting breakfast/brunch/lunch menu is available, with a couple of dishes featuring, you guessed it, doughnuts. “It’s a bit of food trickery,” says Nathan, who dishes up chunks of tuna cured in citrus and lime, with seasonal pickled veggies, bread ends and crunchy doughnut slices. He’s also added doughnut crunch to the popular toasted breakfast granola.
Nathan is working with Barrista Kyra Hansen. The two were joined at the hip at Lonsdale Street Roasters where Nathan was ops manager for three years. Drinks are carefully sourced through hand-picked suppliers passionate about what their produce. Like Love Tea, which is organic, fair-trade, and made in Australia. Kyra says these teas are hand blended and focus on therapeutic benefit. The café serves Ceylon Breakfast, Licorice Love, Tumeric Tea, Rooibos and a French Earl Grey. Coffee is ethical too and sourced from Six8 Coffee Roasters.
The Doughnut Department is designed as a mixed-use space. The public part of the café is at the front and an office space is at the back where Clint and Andrea Hutchinson of FASHFEST, HAUS Models and HAUS of Artists fame now work (this dynamic duo are also partners in The Doughnut Department). Creatives are encouraged to hang out, enjoy a coffee (and a doughnut or two) and share ideas and collaborate. The vibe is inspirational. So too is the fitout by award-winning Capezio Copeland, a member of the Design Institute of Australia.
The Doughnut Department is open 7.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday, No Name Lane, 40 Marcus Clarke Street. The shop front is on Alinga Street, and you need to get in early to get the best selection!