Coffee shops (and trucks!) are experiencing a boom in New Orleans right now, so it was only a matter of time until we had a double-drip installment of Week in Reviews.
First up is Scott Gold's recent visit to the new Magazine Street coffee/doughnut/slider shop District Donuts, which manages to blend the nostalgic elements of the neighborhood malt shop (there's a soft-serve ice cream machine and everything) with the tattooed baristas and exposed lightbulbs so ubiquitous in the contemporary coffee scene. The effect is, according to Gold, mostly pleasant, though District does get a little too crowded for late risers, and its ambitious "fancier fare" sometimes aims too high:
The fancier fare was uneven. A banana pudding donut oozed flavorful cream that contrasted nicely with the texture of the dough, but a maple Sriracha option had subtle flavors that were overpowered by a topping of candied thyme. With choices including "Vietnamese coffee," "five spice," and "passion fruit with chocolate mousse and cocoa nibs," those searching for curious flavor combos won't be disappointed.
All in all, though, Gold's not complaining, especially after sampling the premium and "stellar" cold-brew, and the sliders, which Gold reckons as itty-bitty packages of childhood nostalgia.
But enough of the hip new kid on the blockbeignets are still a New Orleans classic, at least according to Ian McNulty, who didn't so much review the everything-old-is-new-again Morning Call in City Park as he reveled in its "vintage vibe" as he ruminated on the revival of the beignet's popularity.
November marks the first anniversary of Morning Call's foray into City Park, but the old-school beignet and coffee stand has been a cultural mainstay in New Orleans for a long time. It was founded in 1870 at the French Market, then relocated to Metairie in 1974.
Morning Call isn't alone in keeping the beignet relevant; New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co., an offshoot of New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co., has been "wildly popular" since opening Uptown on St. Charles in 2010. Managing partner Paul McGoey told McNulty that the goal is to offer something a little more homegrown than, say, Starbucks: "We heard from people who were getting beignets every weekend, but were still going to Starbucks for their morning coffee on the weekdays. We want them to come here."