I was walking to my car parked on N. Central a a few weeks ago, when I noticed the store front of Vincent Van Doughnut. My friends and I had just had lunch, so we weren’t hungry. But I’m always in search of an interesting food outlet to write about for the blog. To tell the truth, I eat a doughnut about once every 2 to 3 years. Oh, sure, I like them just fine, but I dare not get started. Even so, we opened the door and stepped in, allowing the aroma to weaken any resistance we might’ve had earlier.
Indeed, Vincent Van is an inviting space—charming, really—with a pleasant decor that includes wood floors, exposed brick walls and several small tables. Owner and award-winning doughnut maker Vincent Marsden was alone in the shop. He had opened at 6 a.m., as is his custom, and would remain open until the days’ batch of doughnuts was gone. By early afternoon, he was down to a couple dozen doughnut holes and a large raspberry glazed chocolate. We each tried one of the holes. It being the end of that day’s batch, Vincent threw in the final doughnut allowing us one for the road.
Our Vincent Van stop was a visit filled with nostalgia. When I was a kid, I’d drop by the Mayflower Doughnut shop on F Street in Washington DC. As I recall, it was located around 13th street, not far from the S&W Cafeteria.
In the window was a large sign featuring two cartoon jesters, one frowning at a thin doughnut with a large hole and the other smiling at a large one with almost no hole.
In the center were the words of the Optimist’s Creed: “As you ramble on through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.” I recently read that the happy tidbit was so popular, that both FDR and Herbert Hoover, campaigning during The Depression, worked the adage into their speeches.
It All Got Started with Clyde—the Food Truck
Vincent started making pastry at home, to the delight of his family and friends. Then in 2013, he bought a food truck to dispense his creations and dubbed it Clyde.
But in 2015, after winning $10,000 for his showing on the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown, he set up his brick and mortar store in Clayton. Now he’s about to open a place at Tower Grove and Manchester in The Grove, a fast growing, inner-city hot spot. The new shop will have evening hours and possibly spirited beverages to accompany the treats.
Vincent offers at least a dozen varieties of doughnuts each day. Customers arriving early get the most choice. Among the cake and yeast types are such names as: maple-bacon, chocolate-salted caramel, cheesecake cookie crumble, cranberry white chocolate almond, chocolate chip cookie, apple pie, chocolate-chocolate-chocolate, turtle and more.
For more delicate appetites, there’s always the Mini Vinnies or doughzels (doughnut pretzels), quiche, and fruit.
Vincent Van Doughnut, 40 N. Central in Clayton. Open: Tue-Fri 6a-Sold Out; Sat-Sun 7a-Sold Out. Need a catered doughnut platter or two? Or some breakfast and lunch pockets with ham, cheese, bacon, eggs? All are cater-able (I think that’s a word.)