A rule of thumb: if doughnuts are on a restaurant menu, order them. Doughnuts from bakeries and shops can be hit-or-miss. Countless factors, the most obvious being when they were fried, can make a good doughnut bad, and a potentially bad doughnut, pretty decent. But for the most part, restaurant doughnuts rank somewhere between pretty decent and transcendent. Why? Because any self-respecting restaurant fries doughnuts to order, and they therefore arrive to your table piping hot; warm, at the very least. And freshness is the ultimate make-or-break factor.
At Perilla in the West Village, $9 buys a tidy trio of square-cut doughnuts, fried golden and dusted in sugar. The thin crunch of the outermost layer, the plush dough with just a hint of vanilla, and only then, the lemon curd—luxurious and bright, exploding with a tangy zest. Delicious, and they go down quicker than you think. Cool off with a side shot of the peppermint refresher.