Last week, I met first jumbo English muffin. I’ve based much of my professional career on these flat, yeasty breads. So imagine my surprise of never encountering an oversized nook-and-cranny-nosh of these sorts. The even bigger revelation? It only took one bite of a monstrous egg-filled muffin from Donut Inn to hook me—forever.
The specialty café—located on Military Cutoff in a stripmall at the corner of Eastwood Road—not only serves sugary treats and savory eats, but it has a sweet story to match its decadent confections. Its charming tale began in Connecticut, when owner Phil Santomassi said, “Peace out, corporate world. Hello, donut shop!”
American dream, anyone?
After a successful run, Phil and his wife, Patty, sold the shop and made their move to a warmer climate. Once in Wilmington, they tried their hand at another circle-shaped craft: Beach Bagels on Wrightsville Avenue. Ultimately, they decided they were destined for donuts. Once Donut Inn’s original baker hopped aboard, the cast was complete.
Ready, set, glaze.
I’ll be honest: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (good thing encore readers don’t know my real name ‘cause I would certainly be tarred and feathered for that). In my pre-review dig of Donut Inn, I discovered they offer a full lineup of morning and lunchtime selections. I kicked things off with a sensationally satisfying ham, cheddar and egg sammy on a “jumbo English muffin.” The crusty, buttery breaded delight created an epic vehicle for all of my breakfast goodies: two freshly cracked eggs, a gooey serving of Boar’s Head cheddar and salty ham. Unlike many chains that fall short with not-so-exceptional egg substitutes, Donut Inn’s were fluffy, made-to-order, and straight off the griddle. For anyone counting carbs, breakfast burritos also are available and stuffed with deliciousness. And the Boar’s Head hot sauce behind the counter will set it afire for those who dare.
Let me espresso my feelings for a minute: I like to judge coffee purely on its own grounds. Although I appreciate a good vanilla-hazelnut whatever, I believe in reviewing a restaurant’s coffee as is. Though the inn offers an array of flavored lattes, cappuccinos, and mocha-thingies for their donuts, there iced coffee’s flavor tasted of medium boldness with hints of smoke. I didn’t notice a sign boasting any local beans, but it was reminiscent of some other local favorites of mine. Coming from someone who prefers her coffee darker than her motor oil, trust me—this is a compliment.
Moving along to the real reason I’ve gathered all to this holy article: donuts. Donut Inn’s traditional glazed is a perfect example of what it does best. The basic donut was fluffy, yeasty (without being cakey) and sublimely sweetened. While we all love the choices of 17 luxurious donuts from other shops, it’s more rewarding to enjoy a treat that doesn’t feel like an overindulgence. These glazed rings had an unexpected softness and fluffiness for a full round of applause.
Next, I shipped up to Boston with the traditional cream-filled favorite. The Boston cream’s shiny chocolate coating was uber fresh (not crackly), and—thanks to several seconds in a warm car—its inside custard oozes with fragrant vanilla. Napkins necessary.
Although I typically aim for healthy options to start off my day, there is one morning extravagance to which I occasionally partake. Hint: It rhymes with shmuffin. Then again, seeing as I steer toward cupcake-shaped treats featuring zucchini and not chocolate chip, I’m not sure I’d call it a luxury item.
Oh, well, to each his own.
I jumped for joy when I saw homemade blueberry bran, so I snagged one—and a coffee cake muffin because, well, YOLO. The bran muffin surprisingly tasted moist, uncrumbly, and had a spectacular oaty flavor sparked by sweet pops of tart blueberry. Even the next day it tasted fresh as could be.
The coffee cake muffin came loaded with fragrant cinnamon and dusted with crunch. Donut Inn, if I had to guess, I would say you do, in fact, know the muffin man.
After eating enough sugar to fly to the moon, I went back to a savory state. I asked the friendly cashier for the local lunch favorites and she suggested the Baywater. Packed with turkey, bacon, cheddar, spinach, and tangy honey mustard, a wrap would have made it a bit lighter. But on thick multigrain toast, it was one hearty hoagie—pickle and chips included.
My last two splurges were on a mini sugar-glazed croissant and a cigar. The first one is exactly as it sounds—flaky, buttery, and melt-in-your mouthy—and the second, not so much. The cigar was a long, windy, phyllo-based pastry, laced with cinnamon, topped with sugary pecans and twirled with magic. Imagine the love child of a sticky bun and Baklava. Diners will want to inhale this cigar