408 Carrall Street
T: 604 671 6015
Brief Description: From its small, downtown eastside location, this pop-up donuterie has made a big splash onto the Vancouver food scene.
What kind of Vancouver food blogger would I be if I didn’t mention Cartems Donuterie? If you haven’t heard about Cartems yet I’d be surprised. It has been one of the most talked about new arrivals on the Vancouver food scene that I’ve seen for a while. Personally, I have been waiting for the dust to settle on this place before doing my review. Now, after multiple visits, I feel confident I can review it without being wrapped up in the hype.
Cartems is, quite simply, all about the donuts. They sell nothing else but that – no coffee, no other treats - just old-fashioned donuts. What makes them different from Tim Horton’s, Lee’s Donuts, and Krispy Kreme is that they aren’t the airy, yeasty donuts that you’ve come to expect. The Cartems donuts are dense, with an almost cake-like consistency, which I actually prefer (as a child our treat was hot cinnamon donuts). They can be quite oily, however, and sometimes they crumble but these are made fresh daily so you are going to get irregularities. One other thing that makes them stand out from the crowd is that they also make a gluten-free donut.
The flavours are quite bold with choices such as Sweet Heat (a chocolate cake dough with chilies, cinnamon, and sugar), The Breakfast Donut (whole wheat with figs, flax seeds and honey/agave) and a Maple Bacon Bourbon donut that is attracting the crowds. Check out their website for some mouth-watering pictures and descriptions of each donut. My personal favourites are The Earl Grey (decorated with pretty purple/pink flowers), The Carrot Cake, The Classic, and Cinnamon Sugar. I find the chocolate donut/chocolate glaze combo, is just far too sweet for me. This was also the case for me with the Sweet Snow (with white chocolate glaze and coconut shavings) but this is purely a personal preference. Prices are a little steep at $3 each, or $15 for half a dozen, but they do try to use local ingredients were possible so that can push the prices up.
The pop up store is located on the corner of Carrall and Hastings streets, until further notice. Although I haven’t been, I have heard that you can also pick up some supplies at their kitchen which is located at Woodland Smokehouse (485 Commercial Street).
My only complaint with Cartems is that they don’t make enough donuts to cater to the demand. I don’t know if this has been deliberate (to drive up the demand and make the donuts more coveted) or whether it is bad business sense, or if they just don’t have the space to cater for the demand – it is quite possibly a combination of those three things, but be aware that they do sell-out quite quickly. It is best to follow them on Twitter to see if they are running low, or just get there early. Their hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm, with a later start of 11am on Saturdays.
Final Thoughts: The odd location and short hours make it difficult to get to Cartems but if you do manage to get there, you can expect to find dense, delicious donuts. Would I go out of my way to get there if I wasn’t in the area? Hmmm, probably not.