It’s been a fast five years since Rum & Biscuits were put on to the then hot, new, craft donut shop in NW Portland that was destined to rewrite the city’s donut game for good. That was a world in which all things orbited around the pink box sun of Voodoo. But this shop would turn that way of looking at the world on its head, with the fitting credo of “Quality over quantity,” and the name Blue Star.
Now, Blue Star has exploded into basically 148 locations in Portland and TWO right bang on the west side of Los Angeles in the Rum & Biscuits stomping grounds. We’d made a few visits over the past year, but in deference to Fried Dough Week we knew we had to take it a step further.
Now, as with Astro, Blue Star stays as fresh as their handmade brioche by alternating offerings by season and location. So this may not be comprehensive (yet). Nevertheless, there is a hefty selection to choose from, and we all benefit from a bit of guidance, so with that we humbly present:
Every Blue Star Donut, Ranked
(Venice location, Summer 2017)
Not available: Rose Rosé Hibiscus (which sounds custom made for us), Pineapple Pistachio Piña Colada, Strawberry Mojito (yeast and cake)
22. Meyer Lemon and Key Lime Curd
Biased against cream-filleds? Who, us? Look, we keep an open mind, and for the cream-filled fans, this is a gem, with unique, distinct flavor – tart and lemony with the sweet tang of the key lime. For the rest of us, we tried to focus on the powdered sugar but it was just too real.
21. Matcha Latte
You know you’re in L.A., right? Big win for our Angeleno matcha-files, but for the uninitiated the first bite of the Match Latte option smacks of toasted olive bread before the sweetness of the glaze mercifully takes over a bit. Notes of kettle corn come through as the flavors mingle but not enough to…you know. Win.
20. Pear Lavender Honey Fritter
This name and description jumped off the counter at us when we saw it, and it’s one original fritter: like getting hit in the face with a spice broom, but in a way you really enjoy and could get down with again. It was like Christmas morning on the tongue as we got notes of plums, raisins, and nutmeg; of cloves, apple, cinnamon, and lavender. Super fun, but in the end just a bit too over-the-top for us.
19. Sugar & Spice
A solid, classic sugar cinnamon donut. The only factor distinguishing it from the Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar, in fact, was the addition of Cardamom. It’s a bit more complex, and slightly less sweet. We like the other one better.
18. Cointreau Crème brûlée
The pride and joy – this is the flavor Blue Star has quickly become notorious for. To the concept of the crème brûlée, the shop has made the wild and welcome addition of a pipette of Cointreau, speared right into the heart of it, with the idea of delivering an injection of the orange liqueur before or during consumption. And we have to admit, the flavor trio works: the brûlée is toasty, the cointreau heady and cirtusy, and the cream is sweet but not cloying or blandly sugary. In the end, we leaned toward the still more layered combos and rings, but in the increasingly competitive crème brûlée donut world, this one is sure hard to beat.
17. Valhrona Chocolate Crunch
All Blue Star donuts have profoundly good, potent, dark chocolate icings. In this case, we’re talking rich dark chocolate topped with toasted puffed cereal in a dark chocolate casing. The puffs provided some welcome texture and malty flavor, but as with any donut we could have done without the vanilla cream. That’s just us, doe.
16. Dulce de Leche w/ Hazelnut
This was a surpsiring win! If you can get past the wet, sticky fingers, the caramel notes of the dulce de leche pair well with the crunchy hazelnuts and give the whole combo a mild marzipan flavor that is SIMPLY. A. DELIGHT.
15. Mexican Hot Chocolate
This chocolate icing brought us back instantly to the classic chocolate donuts of childhood. It was wet, super-chocolatey, and yet not too sweet. Interestingly, despite the inclusion of cayenne we didn’t pick up on any of the heat. As you progress, you may notice a very faint dusty aftertaste perhaps from the powdered spices up top, but full donut aside this was arguably the best chocolate icing of the lot.
14. Lemon Poppy Buttermilk
The official stance of the Rum & Biscuits blog is that Old Fashioned, Buttermilk, or cake donuts – not being from a yeast dough base – are not actually donuts but deep fried cake rings. #WhatsBeef? Thankfully for all of us, Blue Star makes some of the best DFCRs in the business: they’re heavy, oily, glazed AF and huge.
Of the bunch, the Lemon Poppy certainly is on the medal stand. While the lemon is hardly understated and the poppy ends up being a bit chalky in flavor at times, no other donut will convince you as quickly of the validity of lemon in donuts. Under the right circumstances, in fact, the LemPop is at least thrice repeatable.
13. Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar
Cinnamon-forward and not too sweet, the favorite daughter of the sugar rings on Blue Star’s menu is moist and cakey, and oily in just the right way. The dough really shines through in this option and refuses to be overwhelmed by the warm sugar coating.
12. Chocolate Almond Ganache
All that the Mexican Hot Chocolate was, the Chocolate Almond Ganache was more: extremely wet, extremely dark, extremely rich. Like licking the brownie batter bowl and don’t act like yall don’t know what we’re talking about. The nuts here add the texture we missed in the Mexican Hot, but nut skeptics rest assured, the almond flavor is mild and supportive of the ganache, if noticeable at all.
11. The O.G. (Orxata Glaze)
The Blue Star O.G. has long been one of our favorite glazed rings – again, a key measure for donut shop evaluations if yall slept through recent past posts. Like any good glaze, the O.G. operates in service of the base dough and elevates it. But it also doesn’t cop out, and the O.G. (read: ORXATA Glaze) certainly doesn’t do that, with cinnamon vibrant enough to last from the first bite through the swallow each time. While it may have some sourness at times and the vanilla isn’t particularly strong, the O.G. has to be among the best glazed donuts on offer for doing what a vanilla glaze needs to, plus mad style points.
10. Blueberry Cake
Spoiler alert: this is not the only blueberry icing on the menu. And it has many, many of the same winning features that the other one has. Keeping it from the upper echelons is a cake (but not Old Fashioned) base, and as we all know deep fried cake rings are not donuts and thus inferior. However, more objectively, our take is that the flavorful cake dough actually fights the blueberry icing a bit. Only room for one alpha here, bruh.
9. Buttermilk Old Fashioned
Tough, crispy, dry, with a buttery toasted taste striking the perfect balance of sweet from the glaze and salt from the oil. If that isn’t enough by now to tell you this is a damn good Old Fashioned, do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
8. Mimosa Cake
How every morning should start, amirite?? While the champagne taste isn’t particularly strong here, it adds a floral component that transforms the candied orange zest into more of an orange blossom flavor. The cake itself is neither heavy, nor light, with a light saltiness and butteriness reminiscent of popcorn. Just all types of Rum & Biscuits favorites coming together on this one!
7. Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk
Now note there is a variation of this combo that is straight raspberry, which is just as good, but in this particular iteration, the rosemary is THERE. We’re talking twin Power Forwards – no big sister, little sister here. Unlike the blueberry-cake combo, the raspberry here is so sweet and mouth-smacking that it holds its own with the flavorful buttermilk cake base, and the rosemary surrounds it all with this slight savoriness that adds up to something of a full meal in each bite. Or a bangin’ twist on a daiquiri, on dough.
6. Orange Olive Oil
This has all of the appeal of the Mimosa Cake, with its sweet-salty ring and tangy, floral orangeness, but this one gets the nod for starting as something of a begrudging, fly-over selection to one we would order on the regular ANY DAY. One truism of the Blue Star cake dough is that citrus and oil both look good on it, and they are both turned up to 11 on the Triple O. It’s extremely flavorful and complex, aromatic and perfumed, with the citrus intense without being either overly sweet or tart.
5. Maple Bacon
Key Metric #2 for donut shop side-by-sides, the ubiquitous maple bacon. In Blue Star’s case, the bacon is generous, and very rich; it’s not especially salty, and has just a bit of sweetness, offering the perfect balance of the two. While the maple flavor could be stronger, it is definitely present, and the hearty brioche dough just sings with this particular trio.
Fam, this “J” is the KING KONG of compotes. It’s got habanero pepper in it, which apparently is just another word for heroin. Or at least it has the same effect. It’s not hot, but rather a flavor steroid, in a way you might usually associate with salt or citrus. It draws an oral underline beneath deep, juicy, blackberry (sometimes even Marionberry, stay alert) so sweet and jammy they had to pile on as much peanut butter powder as you see above. That said, while the PB starts out a bit uneventful, as you chew it takes on this candied, even Reeses’-style taste that is exceptional. Add on to that its even jelly distribution, and you have a jelly-filled donut that Rum & Biscuits actually just put in their Top 5. Are we sure? Well, we’ve been asking ourselves that for weeks, staring in the mirror on sleepness nights, sweating profusely. So yes.
3. Hard Apple Cider Fritter
We wanted the denseness of the Old Fashioned without the treason, and lo, the lord gave us the fritter. Literally taking the TRASH (i.e., leftover scrap dough) of the yeast donut, He made a still stronger donut with all the pleasures of the old fashioned: cinnamon for days, glaze up to your eyeballs, and the consistency of pizza crust. And oh, few are as blessed as Blue Star on this front. Their Hard Apple Cider Fritter brings killer spice right off the bat with warm spices and coriander that hit you right in the mouth. Just a little crunchy, and bit chewier than others; there was a slight hint of lemon that popped in your mouth.
Now just as with apple pie, we all know the only way to make apple fritters better is to keep the apple taste and remove the fruit. Well, we could have sworn that’s what they did with ours. They claim there’s granny smiths and golden raisins in there but all we found was cinnamon syrup and a new religion.
2. Blueberry Bourbon Basil
Our notes here begin with “Overwhelming blueberry that doesn’t stop.” The Blueberry Bourbon Basil was our first love at Blue Star all those years ago, and it’s easy to see why. The berry flavor is so strong and fresh, it’s so perfect a match for the buttery brioche – like a berry cobbler or fresh biscuit with blueberry jam. While the basil is noticeably present, it’s hardly a distraction, and the bourbon seems to have no impact beyond dropping the bottom off the blueberry – giving it more depth and texture. Like the Raspberry Rosemary, this berry-herb marriage truly feels like a donut for grown-ups. It’s one to remember, and something unlike almost anything else we’ve experienced.
1. Passion Fruit Cocoa Nib
The ultimate measure of a donut shop: their Passion Fruit. All three of Rum & Biscuits’ Top 3 have had one, and each has done it differently: one more sweet, one more sour, one more fiery. The Blue Star is the one that lands on the hot end of the spectrum thanks to their addition of cayenne, and even the purists among you (ahem, us) will agree it’s welcome.
The Passion Fruit icing is far from second fiddle, though: it’s mouthwatering. The tropical sweetness hits first, then the tangy and tart, before finally the heat arrives and fills your mouth until you dive in for another juicy bite only to reinitiate the cycle. It’s some of the most fun you’ll have eating a donut, without so many of the pitfalls – it’s sweet but not sickeningly so; crisp, refreshing, and light. Take it from us, if you can only get one donut from Blue Star, get three of these.
So there you have it – every Blue Star Venice donut, ranked. We’ll be sure to keep updating as new flavors become available so keep your eyes peeled. But until then, better to peel out for a trip down Abbot Kinney cuz aint no time like the present and the present happens to be #FriedDoughWeek