Shortstop Coffee & Donuts

October 6, 2014

12 Sutherland Street, Melbourne

“Shortstop Donuts.” was the text I received from Y some weeks ago. “Let’s.” was the reply I gave. Just opened a couple of weeks prior at their slick new digs in the city, bang on trend, was Shortstop’s new shop. I was very keen to try them out, and so it was that one Thursday at 8:30am, in the morning chill on the lawn in front of university, Y and I staged a little doughnut photoshoot and breakfast. This post was made possible by the heroics of Y, who ran into the city early that morning to buy a box before they sold out.

Doughnut run successfully completed, there it was, sitting on a park bench: a box modestly printed with shortstop’s logo. What treasures lay within, I wondered?

After some quick arranging of the doughnuts in their little nest, we were ready to begin our shooting session. Prepare yourselves, people. Big things ahead. Many photos. Much food envy.

Y had picked out a selection of doughnuts to try, and slowly but surely we picked our way through the box. It was a bit of a challenge, so early in the morning, but we made it. Such is my commitment to my craft!

I’ll begin with the classic, the original raised doughnut with cinnamon, cardamom and sugar. All I can say is it’s a freaking good rendition of the classic and should not be overlooked. The cardamom adds a real “je ne sais quoi” (that’s a lie, I do know quoi it is, it’s cardamom). We even grabbed a token passing-by American, A, to have a try. “I’ve never had a doughnut like this in America”, he said, sneaking in another mouthful. Case closed.

Also good (not pictured) was the raised doughnut with a rhubarb and ginger glaze, which was tangy and sour in all the right ways. This doughnut has just recently been swapped over for a more seasonally appropriate lime and strawberry glaze, which I’m sure is equally as delicious!

Making big waves around town are Shortstop’s cake style doughnuts, slightly smaller but denser than the traditional raised variety. The banana and chocolate hazelnut is one such cake doughnut, heavily banana flavoured and covered in good quality chocolate and crushed hazelnuts.

Even better, I thought, was the earl grey and rose. Also of the cake variety, this was my favourite from the box: aromatic, lightly scented with bergamot and a slight hint of rose. Just brilliant, this redefined my idea of doughnuts to something incredibly sophisticated and upmarket.

On the day, Y and I first tasted the raised doughnut with apple, bacon, honey and thyme: “we’ll start with this one, it’s got bacon in it and it’s breakfast time”. I admit I was a bit wary of this, it seemed a little like Americana/man food gone wrong, but actually it was great. Not overwhelming in the slightest, this had the welcome salt of bacon and just a hint of thyme.

Unfortunately, these have been discontinued, although I’m assured by one of Shortstop’s owners that it may very well pop up again as a daily special! For now though, please enjoy the following shots of the bacon masterpiece.

In addition to the raised and cake styles, Shortstop also make filled doughnuts. First to the tasting block – the PB&J. Chewing through a piece of this, I fist pumped my hands in the air. This. Was. It. Like a breakfast dessert, it was sinfully good. By this stage I could anticipate the inevitable sugar rush, but I didn’t care. Bring on more, I thought, more!

Finally, my other favourite of the morning’s treats was the bourbon creme brûlée. Yeah, you heard right, bourbon goddam creme brûlée. I have to say, for 8:30am, this was pretty intense: I’m fairly sure there’s a reasonable amount of bourbon in there because I had a bit of a “HELLO MORNING” moment while tasting it. However, as an experienced eater, I managed it.

The bourbon creme brûlée, an incredibly tasty doughnut that’ll put hairs on your chest in the best way possible.

Phew. What a morning.

Later that day, having rode the sugar wave all morning, I dropped by the shop to get some interior shots. They’d sold out of almost all of their doughnuts, but had just made a fresh batch of the raised varieties over lunch.

The shop is beautifully designed. Small, clean and minimalist, you can tell part-owner Anthony is ex-Market Lane and Seven Seeds. Also beautiful is the coffee they’re pouring – Market Lane’s seasonal blend never tasted so good. Coffee and a doughnut, it’s a simple idea that’s elevated to a higher plane of existence with quality ingredients and lots of TLC. They use delicious organic milk both in their doughnuts and coffee, the best quality butter around, and it shows.

Mr N and I returned a week later to chat with Anthony, who was all too happy to talk about the venture. Many, many hours of research went into each doughnut, and they’re currently baking 1000 a day. They haven’t failed to sell out, not even once. Why not make more, we asked? Quality control, was the reply, which while frustrating for those of us who cannot make early doughnuts runs, makes perfect business sense. Also exciting is the prospect of daily specials, which I’ll be looking out for in the future!

So that’s what treasures lie within the box. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I’ve opened a Pandora’s box here – I’ve done a complete turn around from being not very interested in doughnuts to a bit of an addict. Mr N lives a mere two blocks away and it’s a real struggle, of a morning, not to pop down for a little doughy treat. Then again, what is life without treats?

Shortstop. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

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