Thursday, March 12, I made my first ever trip to Madison’s renowned Greenbush Bakery.
Before you jump on me for never having tried a Greenbush donut, this is only my second year in Madison and, to be fair, my living situation keeps me in a little bubble confined mostly to State Street and campus. Without cars, nobody I know tends to venture out to Regent Street.
As far as I knew, Regent was foreign territory. That was, until my parents picked me up to leave for spring break and we stopped there before the drive back.
Greenbush Bakery actually has two locations now, Greenbush Regent at 1402 Regent St. and Greenbush East at 5225 High Crossing Blvd. The Regent location, however, is the original, so for an authentic and more convenient experience we had to go there.
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The first time I heard about Greenbush Bakery was only a few weeks back, and I was sold in an instant.
For my long-form video course we had a neighborhood snapshot assignment where we had to capture the atmosphere of an area in Madison on camera, and one of my classmates did his assignment on Greenbush Bakery. The shots were full of Greenbush donuts and the process behind it, so I had to monitor my mouth while watching to keep from drooling.
I began asking all my friends about Greenbush Bakery and told my parents we had to go there when they came up next.
Now, a Lutz’s biggest weakness is a fresh, warm donut of the highest quality, so our trip to Greenbush Bakery was much anticipated. After all, Greenbush Bakery is a part of Madison Magazine’s best of Madison with a 2018 gold sticker, and is Madison’s only certified Kosher Bakery.
Unfortunately, our experience was shrouded by the stress and anxiety brought on by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Just a day before our visit, the University of Wisconsin announced it would be proceeding with online classes following spring break. The morning of our visit, I had to cancel my spring break plans that included a flight to Arizona.
This was not the mood I expected leaving for spring break. My hope was that a simple donut could alleviate some of the stress and help me remember to live in the moment. It’s the little things sometimes.
Pulling up to the shadows of Camp Randall Stadium, we found the green and yellow sign for the bakery tucked into the base of the Regent apartment complex.
As we walked in and approached the counter and case lined with various donuts, an employee walked from the kitchen to the counter simultaneously. We got right down to business.
When it comes to sweets my dad likes to do it big. The man has the biggest sweet tooth I know. Everyone who knows him knows him as a big runner after all the marathons and consistent early morning runs. He will tell you he runs so he can treat his sweet tooth.
There are four of us in our family, so naturally to my dad that means ordering 24 donuts. At this point I prayed these donuts would live up to the hype.
We filled up the box with classics like chocolate frosted, vanilla sprinkles, Boston creme, original glazed as well as blueberry glazed and apple cinnamon. We didn’t, however, stray too far from what we know, so we didn’t try their famous sour cream old fashioned donuts.
When we filled our box of 24, I could feel my stomach beginning to bloat as I understood the tall task ahead. I knew I would have to put the team on my back and eat a majority of the donuts.
While I wanted to sit in the bakery, eat there and take in the atmosphere, concerns over the coronavirus controlled and limited our every decision.
Luckily, I had a two-hour car ride with a box of 24 promising donuts sitting in my lap, just asking to be devoured.
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As my mind raced with angst and news over the coronavirus, I was compelled to pull the tape from the giant box of sweets and sink my teeth into a tasty donut, all my stress with it.
Upon opening the box, I became overwhelmed with all the flavors and colors looking at me. But in the exact middle sat two chocolate-frosted donut holes, a simple choice but a go-to.
I sunk my teeth in and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, as I was wiping frosting from the corners of my mouth, I was four donuts deep and the car ride was almost over.
These donuts are damn good.
When I got home I popped an original glazed donut in the microwave to see how it compared to Krispy Kreme. The ultimate test for a glazed donut.
I was very satisfied. The Greenbush Bakery glazed donut packs as much flavor as a Krispy Kreme donut while possessing softer breading and a more authentic feel. While a Krispy Kreme donut freshly baked is tough to beat, there is something about Greenbush Bakery not being a chain that adds to the eating experience.
I don’t know what it is about donuts specifically I find so appealing as a delicious treat and comfort food. Maybe it’s because an animated donut in cartoons on TV always looked so good growing up, or maybe it’s because one of my favorite movies, Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” uses a beautiful donut-like pastry as a consistent symbol throughout.
Whatever the reason is, Greenbush Bakery’s donuts served as an escape and a source of happiness in a day surrounded by bad news and anxiety.
While I couldn’t serve up the full authentic experience I was hoping for, I will be back at Greenbush Bakery, and when we eventually get through this pandemic, I will remember Greenbush as one of the many little things I learned to appreciate during this unprecedented time.