Coincidentally, I had to go to the Fruitvale BART station the day after the verdict for the Oscar Grant shooting. It was actually rather empty and quiet on the platform where he was shot on New Year's Eve 2009.
Downstairs, some of the stores still had their windows boarded up in anticipation of riots that never reached the station. Most of the commotion was centered around downtown Oakland.
I had seen Powerderface before, the only beignet shop I've found in the area, not that I've ever did a thorough search of pastry shops throughout the East Bay. $3.50 for a bag of three beignets. Looking at the wall, I saw a review from 2008 listing the beignets at six for $3.50. Quite a price increase for just two years. I guess that keeps up with market rate for pastries like Beard Papa's, which are outrageously expensive for what they are.
At least the beignets are made fresh to order. I watched her roll out the dough, cut it out and drop it into the deep fryer for 3-5 minutes. I have no idea how they handle a rush, but I got the feeling there weren't very many of those. Out of the fryer and onto the cooling rack. A dust of powder sugar. The heat and oil from the beignet melts some of the sugar into a fine glaze.
I bite into the first one. Flaky exterior, soft and yielding interior with just the right amount of gooey dough consistency. The beignets were lightly dusted with sugar so they weren't too sweet at all. I'd like to tell you how they compared to the famed Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, arguably the king of American beignets. However, I haven't been to the Big Easy since Katrina and honestly can't remember. I just remember the sugar high my brother had from those beignets. So at the very least, I can say Powderface probably scales back on the sugar to a much more desirable level.
If you have a few minutes in your morning BART commute, take a moment aside for yourself, a fresh beignet, and a cup of strong coffee.
3411 East 12th Street, Ste. 134
Oakland, CA 94601
(Fruitvale BART station)
(510) 536-face (3223)