Years ago, before the big Tennyson Street construction and restaurant boom, there was a boutique doughnut shop called The Hole. As a doughnut joint with a full bar, it was probably ahead of its time when it opened in 2010, and the name didn't do the place any favors, either — and so The Hole closed in 2011. But nearly a decade later, doughnuts are making a comeback on Tennyson Street, this time from a successful purveyor with a great neighborhood reputation.
Drew and Leah Watson, owners of Hops & Pie, are opening Berkeley Donuts inside their pizzeria and craft-beer bar at 3920 Tennyson Street. The couple recently completed an overhaul of their restaurant, most of which included kitchen upgrades that won't be noticeable to customers. Hops & Pie reopened on Tuesday, January 14, after a one-week closure; renovations included a new hood that will allow them to fire up the doughnut fryers to offer four styles of doughnut in a dozen or so flavors every Wednesday through Sunday morning.
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Chief among the new offerings will be New England-style potato doughnuts, made with actual mashed potatoes in the dough. Drew says he discovered potato doughnuts at the Holy Donut in Portland, Maine, in 2016 and has been working on his own recipe ever since. The style has been popular in Maine since the 1930s, in part because the potatoes add a light, fluffy texture. "I later found out my mom grew up adjacent to the original location of the Holy Donut, and I knew the concept was meant to be," he adds.
There will also be sourdough doughnuts, cake doughnuts and vegan and gluten-free doughnuts, in flavors such as Mexican chocolate (with hatch green chiles and dulce de leche); bourbon sourdough with bread pudding sauce (a favorite among Hops & Pie regulars); Almond Joy; s’mores; lemon meringue; brown butter with Rice Krispies; chocolate-toffee-pretzel; and the “Strawberry Homer,” a strawberry glazed doughnut named in honor of the Simpsons patriarch. For those with less of a sweet tooth, Drew has also come up with a sourdough doughnut breakfast sandwich loaded with eggs, cheese and housemade maple breakfast sausage.
The Watsons are still putting the finishing touches on Berkeley Donuts, but expect to begin morning service before the end of winter (so hopefully a beer-and-doughnut combo will return to Tennyson). In the meantime, you can satisfy your Hops & Pie craving with a new sandwich-of-the-week special, a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich, or an al pastor pizza, available through the end of January. Perennial Artisan Ales will be taking over the taps this weekend beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, January 17.