Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Nickel Bag of Funk: Nickel Diner and the Maple Glaze Bacon Donut

I never bought into the whole bacon for dessert trend. Don't get me wrong. I love bacon and I love sweets, but most of the versions I've had which combine the two, even the highly touted versions, left me feeling flat. Because of this experience, it was with some hesitation that I pulled into downtown's Nickel Diner and ordered one of the famous Maple Glaze Bacon Donuts, but I'm glad I did.

Where others failed, the Nickel pulls off the sweet and the porcine. This may be because the doughnut lacks a chocolate element. Part of my dislike of bacon desserts is that they always seem to involve chocolate, and while I love chocolate, its flavors clash with bacon. The bitterness of good chocolate enhances the bacon's greasiness and you lose all of the subtlety of good chocolate in the flavor explosion that is bacon. But the Nickel doughnut eschews chocolate; instead going for a flavor pairing with maple. It is, essentially, a doughnut bathed in maple syrup and topped with crumbled bacon. As such, it references the pancake breakfast in which the syrup spills over to your bacon and creates a lovely combination of sweet and salty. In contrast to the bitterness and complexity of chocolate, the pure, unadulterated sweetness of maple syrup brings out all that is good and porky and salty about bacon.

The one complaint I had is that while the maple-bacon topping is spot on, the doughnut itself seems mostly an afterthought, an unexceptional, overly soft pastry lacking any crispness. I found myself dreaming about what the bacon-maple glaze topping would taste like on one of the beauties from Stan's or Bob's. That would catapult this dish from tasty to transcendent.

I also sampled a red velvet doughnut, which strangely, was not made from red velvet type cake. As with the Maple Glaze Bacon Donut, the red velvet topping, which consisted of a sweet, red crust and a healthy dose of cream cheese frosting, was tasty but it was heaped on the same unexceptional doughnut.

As for the food, the pulled pork hash was well done, though the red BBQ sauce on top was a bit overwhelming, and my companion's salmon salad seemed fine, if not exciting, but who are we kidding, this is a place you visit for the funky doughnuts.

Nickel Diner
524 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 623-8301

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