Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Miso-maple. Pineapple-brown butter. Blood orange. Doughnuts are getting a whimsical twist in Spanish Harlem, thanks to Dough Loco, the latest—and tiniest—spot from the team behind Earl's Beer and Cheese and ABV Wine Bar. The project is led by chef Corey Cova, who is single-handedly producing around 250 fried circles of dough per day (more on weekends). "I wake up at midnight and am baking my first batch my 2 a.m.," he says. "This is the most dough I've ever made in my life."
The hard work seems to be paying off. When I visited on a recent Sunday afternoon—just four days after opening—they had just run out of doughnuts; a fresh batch quickly emerged, appeasing those waiting in line. Also on the menu: pour-over coffee and espresso from cult-favorite Blue Bottle Coffee. In fact, co-owner Michael Cesari's interest in coffee was the impetus for Dough Loco. "Food and drink complement each other, and what goes better with coffee than doughnuts?" Cova says. "And there really was no place around here to get either."
The 10-seat bakery is the result of a Kickstarter campaign, for which Cova and Cesari, along with general manager Ryan Gafkins, created a video asking for $7,000 to cover the cost of equipment. They built out the space on their own, creating a bar from an old bowling lane to match the ones at Earl's next door (Cesari's parents own an alley update) and painting the pressed-tin ceiling a vibrant Tiffany blue.
In addition to the aforementioned creative flavor mash-ups, visitors can also find comfort in classic glazed and chocolate-glazed treats. Cova says the chocolate stands out for its quality: it's made with Peruvian bean-to-bar Fruition Chocolate, from former CIA classmate Bryan Graham.
What can we expect in the future? "I go to the greenmarket once a week and experiment and purée a bunch of stuff," Cova says. "I'm working on a couple of new flavors, including a banana curry. The curry is cinnamon based, so it won't be overpowering." For the guy who invented ABV's octopus-and-Spam salad and the foie gras fluffernutter, the possibilities are endless.
Click through the slideshow above to see the doughnuts, coffee, and more.