You know the saying, “there’s always room for dessert”? Looks like the same stomach-expanding sentiment can be used in reference to real estate in one of Phoenix’s most sought-after zip codes… even if the dessert itself is meh. I guess that explains Jello.
Masterpiece Donuts and Coffee, a haute donut and coffee shop, just opened in Arcadia, in a strip mall on 40th Street and Indian School Road. The pièce de résistance of Masterpiece’s menu is custom, made-to-order donuts. The base is a fluffy cake donut topped with your choice of five types of icing, eight toppings and eight drizzles. Picassos in the making can create donut dreamscapes along the lines of sea salt-inflected vanilla glazed with caramel drizzel or maple glazed with oreos and espresso drizzle (my teeth ache just typing that last one). Choice-phobic customers need not fret: Simply order off the menu from 13 creations named after famous artists. Like “The Renoir” featuring chocolate icing, topped with chocolate pearls and drizzled with raspberry sauce.
I ordered The Rembrandt – chocolate icing, chopped peanuts, peanut butter drizzle. While the thing was certainly pretty, looks only get you so far. The cake donut was a little tough and tasted stale to me, like it had been sitting out prior to me ordering it – odd for a place that claims to make orders after someone, you know, orders.
It also doesn’t help that I ate a made-to-order donut when I visited my home state of Virginia just a few weeks ago that was about 1,000 times better. A made-to-order donut should taste impossibly fresh, like you just pulled it piping hot out of the oven. Otherwise, there’s nothing separating a chic, trendy dessert from the powdered sugar six-pack of Entemann’s I can pick up at my neighborhood Safeway. Well, except price point.
On the brighter (and lighter) side, Masterpiece also offers a Healthy Bowl that’s quite good and has the added benefit of not making me feel guilty for wasting my caloric allotment on something that’s only so-so. Cross Fit and pilates moms will appreciate the vanilla-honey Greek yogurt topped with bananas, raspberries, blueberries, granola and a nutritional supplement. And everyone will like the drink menu, featuring noted Italian brand Illy espresso drinks and iced coffee in addition to tea and house-made lemonade. My vanilla latte, while it won’t rank among the cappuccino art indie coffee hipsters flock to nearby Sip en masse for, was very good indeed.
The space itself is homey and inviting. Eagle-eyed visitors can watch their donut concoctions being made from behind a glass wall, while aspiring novelists can set up shop from a plush chair with soft overhead lighting. One wall features charming artwork sourced from several local schools, which might be the best examples of "masterpieces" in this place.
Don’t mistake my malaise with a zero star review. I’m delighted couture desserts have made their way to our Valley, and I genuinely got a kick out of perusing the café’s list of unique donut creations. There’s always room for made-to-order desserts in my book. Masterpiece just needs to work out a few kinks before it can fully live up to its name.
3950 E. Indian School Rd., Ste. 120, Phoenix
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