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September 9, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Lloyd's Donut Kitchen

Restaurant Review: Lloyd's Donut Kitchen

"Coffee and Donuts with Supreme Sandwiches at Their Best"

By Denny Stein

What takes all night to make? Has to be served fresh? Comes in at least three or more shapes? Sometimes has nothing in the middle and sometimes a surprise? Is part of Fremont history? Is sweet, baked, fried, and irresistible?

If you guessed a "doughnut" you're warm .But if you said A doughnut from Lloyd's Donut Kitchen in Fremont, you've hit the jackpot and bingo. The history of Lloyd's Donut Kitchen is woven into Fremont's history. In 1968, Lloyd Cooper, of Cooper's House of Pastry, opened a small doughnut shop at Blacow Road and Main Street (now Mowry Avenue). Jack Stevenson, the first mayor of Fremont, invited Mr. Cooper to move his doughnut shop to a new shopping plaza, Los Arboles, now known as Mowry East. Lloyd's Donut Kitchen was the first store to open in that shopping center, currently populated by OSH, Starbucks, Le Moose Crepes Cafˇ, Beck's Shoes, Massimo's and other restaurants and stores. Over 30 years ago, Lloyd's daughter, Valerie, and her husband Ken Berrier moved to Fremont and joined Lloyd (who retired in 1991) in the doughnut business.

The elusive Chef Ken works from 11 p.m. at night to 7 a.m. in the morning. Even in that amount of time, it seems almost impossible for one man to make the number and variety of doughnuts that Lloyd's sells. Ken Berrier spends those night hours mixing dough and flavors, extruding batters, frying, raising, rolling, dropping dough, frying, hand-cutting, shaping and frying, dredging and icing. Some of his creations have the ubiquitous doughnut shape, an O within an O. Others come out as bars, swirls, Danish, or filled pillows. Some are cakey and dense, others are puffy and delicate. Val comes in at 5 a.m. to keep Ken company and decorate doughnuts, then opens the store.

The kitchen is small and simple, stainless steel shelves, tables, and bins, a large Herbert mixer, the big square deep fryer, racks for dipping and cooling, dripping and dusting. The bins hold flours formulated especially for different kinds of doughnuts: Raised, Cake, Bread, Blueberry, Old Fashioned, Buttermilk. "And then he adds other ingredients," Val said. "Like what?" "I don't know; only he knows." "Like secret ingredients?!" She answered, "I guess you could say that." It seems there is more to a doughnut than meets the tongue. The magical irony is that all this tough, solid industrial equipment, in Ken's hands, turns out trays of soft, sweet, fluffy glistening doughnuts.

Jim Brunelli, of Central Collision Center, told me, over an assorted box of doughnuts, that if he is going to get doughnuts, he gets them at Lloyd's, because, "well, it's just been here for a long time." His appreciation ratings pretty much matched those of Margo Hood, who came over for a "scientific" tasting. We went through a frosted chocolate bar, a raised chocolate iced doughnut, a cinnamon crumble, your traditional raised, glazed doughnut, an old fashioned with chocolate frosting, and a jelly doughnut. The raised doughnuts, made with yeast, are as weightless and fluffy as sweet air. The chocolate glazed old fashioned was practically a candy bar. The chocolate bar was less dense than the old fashioned, though very good, lightly sweet, and elicited the remark, "You don't see me putting it down." Finally, the JELLY FILLED doughnut elicited a duet of "Mmmmmm. Mmmmmmm." Note that neither taster was a jelly doughnut nut.

It's all good at Lloyd's Donut Kitchen, and that includes the less well-known, but equally fresh and tasty, "Supreme Sandwiches." Perhaps it's Ken's homemade rolls, which are hard to describe without lapsing into doughnut adjectives. They are oblong, sweet, gentle, and the perfect bed for deli meats and cheese, accompanied by mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato or what you will. Pick up one or two to go, wash it down with a jelly doughnut, and a carton of milk or cup of coffee. You won't be sorry.

To do your own taste test at home,

1. Invite a group of friends over
2. Purchase a box of assorted doughnuts (Let Valerie choose them for you)
3. Lay them out artistically on a plate.
4. Cut them into 4-6 pieces each.
5. Score each doughnut by the number of Mmmmmms after each bit.

If you prefer, pull up a few tables or squeeze into a booth at Lloyd's and order a round of doughnuts. The "girls" at the store have been there almost as long as Val and Ken, so they know their doughnuts (and sandwiches) and their customers. Don't wait too late in the day, because those doughnuts can sell out, fast. And Lloyd's closes about 3:30 p.m. or when the doughnuts are gone. Leftover doughnuts and rolls go to Fremont's Feed the Hungry program, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Berriers support community fundraising with Lloyd's gift certificates.

Making doughnuts is long, hard, hot work. What makes it worthwhile are the generations of customers who have made Lloyd's Donut Kitchen a well-known and established enterprise, and knowing how much enjoyment a fresh doughnut bestows.

Reviewed August 25, 2009

Lloyd's Donut Kitchen
Mowry East Shopping Center
5200 J. Mowry Ave., Fremont
(510) 792-9322

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