Usually I don't buy doughnuts at coffee shops—when you're relying on delivery or a once-a-day kitchen preparation, they're almost inevitably dried out and stale. But the treats at Arlequin Cafe in Hayes Valley are typically top notch, and the Chai Brioche Doughnut ($2.50) looked pretty moist from where I was standing. Not to mention chai, brioche, and doughnuts are three of my favorite things. How could I not?
The doughnut didn't disappoint. The dough was soft and squishy with buttery layers—explaining the name, this is a tender brioche that's shaped like a doughnut and fried. The exterior had a light sanding of sugar which, to my happy surprise, leant the treat most of its sweetness. That's right: no cloying cream middle here. The interior chai-flavored cream was milky and spicy but not particularly sweet. The spiced flavor was undeniably that of a chai mix, and I might steal this idea to make a similar sweet at home. Arlequin serves excellent Sightglass coffee and I'd recommend getting a cup to pair.