COMMENTS

Cheap Eats: Gold Star Donuts

/
Gold Star Donuts / RACHEL LEVEY-BAKER

Gold Star Donuts / RACHEL LEVEY-BAKER

The ambiance at Gold Star Donuts doesn't quite compare to the shop I wrote lovingly about two weeks ago, Anna Maria Donuts. One is located on Pine Avenue, just steps from the ultramarine waves of the gulf; the other in a Whitfield Avenue strip mall, just steps from the inky surface of a retention pond. One is surrounded by elegant, Old Florida-styled shops; the other by dicey motels and a sports bar where happy hour starts at 8 a.m. One welcomes you with its light and airy front room; the other is just a counter, with no tables or chairs in sight.

But what Gold Star may lack in streetside charm it more than makes up for in taste, offering the best doughnuts in the area at exceptional prices. I first learned about Gold Star through Ticket chief Brian Ries, whose faded review from years ago still hangs on the shop's wall. The publication stands out because there isn't much decoration inside, just a letter board with a list of Gold Star's classic options ($7.95-$9.95 for a dozen), stacks of beverages and the glass cabinets showcasing the shop's incredible creations.

Gold Star focuses on the basics, and unlike at Anna Maria, you won't find fancy treats like Key lime doughnuts, bacon toppings or salted caramel. Here, the emphasis is on the traditional: glazed with chocolate or maple; dusted with powdered sugar; stuffed with lemon or Bavarian cream or jelly.

It's a typical Sunday morning at Gold Star, and the stream of customers is steady. Many of them, clearly regulars, walk in with their orders already memorized, while I pace left and right, agonizing over how to fill up my half-dozen allotment. I told my mom I'd bring over bagels to have with the frittata brunch she's preparing, even though as soon as I hung up the phone I knew I was going to get doughnuts instead. They're cheap, they're round — maybe she won't notice the difference? (The biggest factor in my deception: Is there a single place in Southwest Florida that makes a quality bagel? Seriously. I want to know. Contact me!)

Gold Star offers both cake and yeast doughnuts, and while my taste runs toward the latter, I pick out one blueberry cake doughnut. Hey, it's got fruit in it. Healthy, right? The rest of my plain white bag fills up with a variety of yeast glazes and creams, staining the paper with that inimitable doughnut combination of sugar and grease.

Ta-da! Look, Mom! Bagels! Maybe not, but as soon as she takes a bite any complaints she might have disappear. The doughnuts taste universally fresh and delicious, and while the toppings and fillings vary widely, the Gold Star dough remains the star. Crispy on the outside, with a springy sponginess inside, it's clear these things have been prepared patiently and cooked recently. The creams, jellies and glazes are pretty par for the course, in all honesty, but they're elevated by what encases them. The maple and the bear claws are probably my favorite, but really, I enjoy them all.

The coffee at Gold Star ain't anything special, so skip it. It's not a place you're going to linger at anyway. My advice: Grab as many as you think you can handle in a day (because, trust me, you will eat them all in one day) and take them home or to a loved one's abode. Paired with a cup of strong black coffee, they are one of the best treats you'll find 'round these parts.

A plate of Gold Star's finest / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

A plate of Gold Star's finest / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Gold Star Donuts
1246 Whitfield Ave., Sarasota
755-1225
This is the umpteenth entry in a weekly column dedicated to eats that are cheap. If you have an idea for a place to feature in Cheap Eats, comment below, email me at cheapeatssrq@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter: @LeveyBaker.
Last modified: October 22, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS