Cartems Donuterie (Pop Up Shop)
The latest craze to hit the Vancouver food scene is Cartems Donuterie (don’t you just love the word “Donuterie”?) who opened up a pop up shop diagonally across from Pigeon Park on the corner of East Hastings and Carrall (yup, that’s not a mis-print). Touted as offering freshly made donuts with unique flavours and locally sourced ingredients – they are the current darling of the Vancouver donut community.
Taking a cue from other recently opened food establishments, they have fully embraced the social media aspect of marketing their sweet donut wares and their new found popularity is one of the drawbacks to their success. Scalability is definitely an issue as they often run out of popular donut varieties as soon as they are brought in to their shop. This doesn’t seem to matter to the patrons as you can often see the line up of people outside their pop up shop, waiting to get their hands on whatever type of donut is still available.
The dichotomy of seeing people line up en masse to purchase $3 donuts next to the homeless residents of the Downtown Eastside is not lost to me – but on this particular morning, I was dying for a donut and I wanted to see if it was as good as the hype.
I had arrived shortly after they opened on a Saturday morning and there was already a line up of people standing in the cold, dreary excuse of a spring that we’ve been having lately. The line up actually moved along pretty quickly – maybe 5 – 10 minutes before I reached the front counter. Sure enough, most of the donuts that I wanted to try (the Carrot Cake and the Triple Chocolate Threat) were already sold out. Instead, I decided to get a variety of whatever was left over.
The Cinnamon Sugar is one of their basic donut flavours – I think most of the donuts that they serve are the cake-type donuts as opposed to the risen type donuts.
This is their Guinness – one of the specialty donuts they created for St. Patty’s Day. I had to admit that this was a pretty good donut.
The Earl Grey was better than I expected. I like Earl Grey tea but I was worried that the flavour would be too strong in the donut. Fortunately, it was more like just a hint of Earl Grey insteading of being overwhelming. The purple flower sprinklings in the glaze are supposedly mallow flowers that are found in Earl Grey tea.
The Bailey’s (I think this was another special flavour for St. Patty’s Day) was another one of their cake donuts that I enjoyed.
Since I didn’t see any other flavours that stood out to me, I asked the guy at the counter to pick out a few that he thought were good choices. Both of the remaining donuts were from their vegan line of donuts. The first is a baked chocolate donut with vegan chocolate ganache and callebaut sprinkles. The donut wasn’t bad but I didn’t find it on par with their other non-vegan varieties. The vegan donuts are much lighter and airier than their regular cake donuts.
This vegan donut was just a simple plain donut with coconut sprinkles – the donut was so delicate that it crumbled apart quite easily when I tried to pick it up.
Before heading down to their pop up shop in Gastown, I tried to head over to their Commercial Drive kitchen but I don’t think they wanted to open to the public because there was a large metal security gate that was covering the glass entrance door. I could see people working inside the kitchen but they were probably trying to keep people away because they knew they didn’t have enough donut supplies to support selling at their kitchen and also their popular pop up shop.
I think some donuts are probably worth the $3 price tag and the line up isn’t too bad because it moves along quickly. They just need to work on increasing the amount of donuts that they are capable of making. There’s nothing worse than standing in a line up in the sketchy area of town, waiting to buy $3 donuts, only to find out that the little old lady in front of you bought out all of the donut flavours that you wanted.
Food: 4 / 5
Service: 3.5 / 5
408 Carroll Street