This year for Valentine's Day I ventured out on my own and went to Cartems Donuterie's Valentine's Day three-course donut tasting event. I had no idea what food to expect going into it but did know that Cartems produces some insanely good donuts so I was extremely excited nevertheless. 

Most people attending the event were couples, but luckily I managed to find the social table where most of us came as individuals who just wanted to experience some foodie action for the night. The event was at Cartems' W. Pender St. location and had four courses in total.

I do want to note that I tried the vegan tasting menu, but it really wasn't too much different from the regular one.

1. Appetizer

Sarah Smith

The first course was a shiitake mushroom stuffed donut placed over some "creamed" spinach with a small side of homemade carrot chips. This was probably my favorite dish out of them all. It's essentially like any stuffed donut, just without the sweet glaze on the outside and replacing the typical jelly center with mushrooms instead. 

I found the contrast of the slightly sweet donut paired with the savory mushrooms worked especially well together.

2. Salad

spinach, salad
Sarah Smith

The next course that came was a "baked spinach salad" that had raspberries, pear, and radish, all tossed in a lemon and white wine vinegarette. The star of the salad was the huge donut fritter that came with it as well. It sounds slightly weird, donut and salad? But to quote one of my fellow diners, "It's essentially just like one massive, sweet-ish crouton." 

It really wasn't that weird, but it's also something I personally don't think I would ever pair together myself. There wasn't much of a wow-factor to this salad and it was sort of a let down to me in terms of my expectations for some creativity. But then again, a salad is quite hard to mess up so it still was tasty.

3. Main

Sarah Smith

The main course, a "donut burger," was the one that excited me the most at first sight of it. Using a donut as the burger bun is kind of a genius idea if you ask me. For the vegans, we were presented with a smoked black bean walnut burger with a side of potatoes and spicy hibiscus ketchup.

Unfortunately, the burger didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. Everyone at the table all agreed it was a little too dry for our liking, but nothing bad enough to stop us all from finishing every last bite. Also, I did have to remind myself that these dishes were all being cooked in a kitchen made to only bake donuts, not a regular restaurant kitchen. So for what the chefs had to work with, I would say it was quite impressive.

4. Dessert 

cream, syrup, sauce, chocolate
Sarah Smith

I really do hate to write negative things about Cartems, as it is one of my absolute favorite places in Vancouver to frequent (and a place I frequent too often), but dessert was another let down for me. I guess my disappointment came from expecting something extravagant as the lady sitting next to me said she went to the vegan donut tasting a while back and had a cheesecake baked inside a donut. 

Chef Rags named this dessert "Love is one hot mess," which was definitely fitting for the holiday occasion. The dish was a plain donut drizzled in dark chocolate syrup and a sweet balsamic reduction with a garnish of some berries. Extremely simple, but still delicious.

So it's not to say that any of these dishes were bad, in fact, they were all good enough that everyone at the table cleaned off each plate. I guess I just had set my expectations a little too high since I'm such a huge fan of their regular products.

From hearing about past events like this from other people, there definitely have been some amazing sounding creations. So I urge you not to use my experience as a be-all-end-all decision maker on whether or not you should go to a future event of theirs. And if you haven't already tried out one of Cartems Donunterie's delicious donuts before, you are missing out big time.