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A dozen reasons to stop off at the Beach

By Marisa Nadolny

Publication: The Day

Published January 02. 2014 4:00AM

Allow me to suggest one last dietary hurrah before any New Year's resolutions take effect. Tucked in a nondescript plaza just over the Westbrook border in Clinton lies Beach Donut Shop. Go there and take a deep breath just outside the shop. Enter and be glad you read this, as more than a dozen flavors of neatly shelved, hand-made donuts greet customers.

Now, Beach Donut offers more than just donuts, and among its best menu items is the basic two-egg and cheese breakfast sandwich ($3.50), available on a choice of breads, including very good bagels and equally good hard rolls. In sampling the latter, I was asked if I wanted that hard roll toasted and salt and pepper sprinkled upon the eggs. I did, and it was a good call, indeed. Perfect egg-layering and melted cheese merged with crisp, flavorful roll in breakfast-y bliss.

Basic lunch sandwiches (think grilled cheese and BLTs) round out the savory menu, and the shop has begun to offer omelets (with toast and homefries for a very fair $6.75) for breakfast.

Among non-donut sweets are muffins, giant chocolate chip cookies, spectacular whoopie pies, apple fritters and, on the weekends, dessert breads, but in the interest of not collapsing from sugar shock, I opted to stick to the main attraction of donuts for the bulk of this review. Twelve of them ($11 for a dozen; $1.25 each). Luckily, my colleagues were able to help me finish off the white box of joy I brought into work on a recent Monday morning. My notes on each flavor follow. Favorites are marked with an asterisk.

*1. As a sucker for all things sprinkled and frosted, donut number 1 was the vanilla frosted with sprinkles. It is a donut I'll enjoy again, as a slight note of honey adds welcome nuance to this sweet treat. Even the base-cake offered some flavor depth, and the froster did not scrimp on the sprinkles.

*2. Boston cream: My new favorite pastry sports delicious, thick, chocolate frosting with a very nice custard center. Cake presented a bit of classic "fried" flavor, but in the best possible way.

3. Cinnamon sugar crueller: The cinnamon doesn't fade away into background, offering a brightness to this dense, hearty stick with a crispy exterior. Cinnamon prevents an overdose of fried flavor.

4. Chocolate glazed crueller: Deep chocolate flavor, with crispy edges like its cinnamon counterpart. This is a heavy hitter, folks, and I'd recommend sharing.

5. Cookies and cream: A basic-cake donut filled with custard that presented strong vanilla flavor. The top of the donut is dusted with Oreo-looking cookie crumbs and vanilla frosting. What should have been the deep chocolate of the cookie crumbles got lost in the wave of cream-filling flavor, which is not altogether bad, but I would've preferred more cookie crunch.

*6. Glazed jelly-filled: Very bright fruit flavor from what I suspect is raspberry jelly within. This round little gem is glazed, which provides nice crispness.

7. Apple crisp: A bit heavy and greasy; where apple should be prevalent flavor, I mostly discerned a general taste of oil.

8. Apple cider: Tart - almost too tart, bordering on sour - with strong apple flavor, I could see this donut pairing well with coffee, but it hit a little too heavy for me.

*9. Sour cream: This is kind of your Plain Jane donut, with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and is most definitely a great partner with coffee. Crisp outside, soft within, this is a very elegant donut.

10. Blueberry: Very pleasant flavor, with lots of blueberry shining through, this is a glazed donut that's more dense than cake bases like the sprinkled or Boston Cream.

11. Pumpkin: Very rich and heavy on flavor, with a glaze. Bright and spicy with lighter cake, this donut managed to appeal to someone who doesn't typically love pumpkin-flavored things

*12. Bavarian creme: This powdered, pudding-filled beauty is not too sweet, not too greasy. Very good.

Twelve donuts later, I've still got several flavors to sample next visit. It is a mission I'll take on gladly, as it's clear the shop staff take their craft seriously. They've been doing it for 60 years, and here's hoping they continue for 60 more.


Beach Donut Shop

344 East Main St., Clinton
(860) 501-1865

Cuisine: Baked goods, among which donuts are the star attraction, and sandwiches

Atmosphere: Casual and cheery; a handful of tables provide ample space in which to sip the quite-good house coffee and dig into breakfast.

Service: Brisk but pleasant

Prices: Easy on the wallet

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard and Discover

Reservations: No

Handicapped access: No steps to enter, relatively spacious interior

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