I’ve been waiting since the beginning of the summer for Mojo Monkey Donuts to open. I don’t know why Bear Face, Betty Deville, and I fixated so strongly on this place but we did. Maybe it was the name. Maybe it was the promise of another donut devoted establishment. Maybe it was the glimpse of potential we gleaned from our donut eating experiences up to that point that we hoped Mojo Monkey could fulfill. Whatever it was, it prompted me to detour a few times on my way home to drive by the alleged neighborhood Mojo Monkey would be opening to try and find the location and scour the interwebs looking for more information about this coming donut shop. I never found the location on my drive by’s and I never found anything more on the internet than the name and “coming soon.” And then our donut committee dissolved and I left my St Paul job and went back to school on this side of the river, and Mojo Monkey was pushed from my mind.
Fast forward to last week. Its early on a Tuesday. I’d gotten up with Pretty Boy and after he left for work, I started my morning routine on the computer. There was something that morning that prompted me to visit the Heavy Table blog. Something drew me to look at “The Tap,” a list of coming, recently opened, and closing restaurant and food businesses in the Twin Cities. And something jumped out at me. Under the “Now Open” heading: MOJO MONKEY DONUTS! There was an address! There was a facebook page! There were hours! It had opened and I hadn’t even noticed.
Getting up early in the mornings with Pretty Boy has its benefits. I don’t have to rush getting ready. I can take care of things around the house that I otherwise am too tired to do when I get home from school. I can cook breakfast and lunch if I want to. OR I can decided to spontaneously trek over to St Paul in the hour and a half before I have to be in class and visit newly opened donut establishments! It only took me about ten minutes of debating, sending text messages to see if anyone else was awake and interested in sharing, and throwing my school things together to get me out the door and on my way to Mojo Monkey Donuts.
It was still dark out when I pulled up to the little window front squeezed between two other doorways and parked my car. The shop was clean and new, decorated in a cute modern style with a few small low tables and a few small high tops around a tall counter with small empty donut cases on top and coffee bar behind it. The back of the shop was the donut kitchen, elevated and brightly light and visible to the customers behind a sheet of plexiglass. It was like a beacon calling to me in the darkness. A man and his son were standing at the counter as a woman behind it was loading a box full of crullers from a bakers rack of donuts behind the counter. While I waited, I was impressed by their menu: it had all the staples like cake, raised, and fritters as well as some interesting flavored toppings like Oreo, mango and coconut. Quite the list.
Unfortunately, when it came my turn to order, the selection on the bakers rack was not as robust as their menu. I was alright with that though, because I wanted to try their donut staples first. I ordered two raised chocolate glazed, two plain cake, one banana caramel fritter, and one vanilla glazed cruller. I snapped a photo of the box with my phone and sent it a Betty Deville to try and tempt her into stopping by for breakfast, then jumped in my car to race home.
Getting home turned into more of an adventure than I expected because of a major crash on the main route back to Northeast. Luckily I heard about it on the radio and was able to avoid the main route, but the traffic on the alternate routes was pretty heavy as well. I was trying to make it home with the whole box of donuts where I could sit down, perform some pastry surgeon magic, cut them up into sharable pieces, and take a taste of all of the different kinds. But I was stuck in traffic. And hungry. While in the car, I ate half a chocolate glazed raised donut, half a cake donut, half of the cruller, and a corner of the fritter. The raised donut and cake donut were top notch. I liked the donut flavor and especially the crunch. Both donuts had a good, fresh-out-of-the-fryer crust on them that I really appreciate. (Me and Betty Deville are all about the crust!) The crust makes them not as light and airy as some other donuts I’ve eaten but I prefer a crusty donut over a melt in your mouth, airy donut. I would say, though, that the cake donut seemed a touch greasy a few places on the inside, maybe a justified sacrifice for the crunchiness.
I did not like the cruller. It was very airy, but unlike the cake and raised donuts, it was not crunchy. In fact, it seemed soggy, like a soggy popover almost. Not that crullers are supposed to be terribly crunchy, but I think they should have some substance. The airiness and sogginess combined made the cruller smoosh and turn chewy as I ate it. The fritter was the big surprise. I love apple fritters but am usually disappointed but the lack of actual apple flavor. The banana caramel fritter was a great balance of donut and sweetness and actual banana flavor and crunch. I tore my first little crusty end bit off, gobbled it down, and definitely went back for several more pieces, getting caramel glaze all over myself, some of which I continued to find on various parts of my pants throughout my day at school. Overall, I highly approve of Mojo Monkey Donuts and am very curious to delve deeper into their selection of fried deliciousness.
After deciding I had eaten enough donuts for one morning, I had to restrain myself from eating the rest of the fritter and the whole rest of the box of donuts as I sat impatiently in traffic and my time got tighter and tighter. By the time I pulled into my driveway, it was 7:55 am. Five minutes until class. The donuts made it home for the Mojo Monster to have when she got up and for Pretty Boy to have when he got home from work. I threw the box of donuts in the kitchen, grabbed my books and bike, and flew to class. I walked into the classroom only five minutes late. As I sat in class, catching my breath from the bike ride and feeling the morning’s sugar and caffeine kicking in, I couldn’t help smiling to myself: the spontaneous donut adventure had definitely been worth it and I will be returning to Mojo Monkey Donuts again!