Knead Dough Bar & Eatery – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Despite the Name on the Marquee, This is the Home of Knead, a Superb Gold Street Bakery

“I don’t talk about politics, religion or sports,
because all three will divide people.
That’s why I talk about food,
because food brings people together.
That’s right! Unless you’re vegan!”
~Gabriel Iglesias

Not even glass half full optimists can disagree that America has accelerated into a warp speed devolution from George H. W. Bush’s vision of a “kinder, gentler nation.”    Replace kinder and gentler with snarky and sniping and you’ve got a more accurate picture.  Not only are there widening schisms between political ideologies, there are deep fissures between values of all types (as comedian Gabriel Iglesias astutely pointed out).  It’s not enough to disagree any more.  In modern America, we don’t tolerate differences of opinion.   We take them personally and go on the offensive.  Take Chef Gordon Ramsay’s proclamation: “If the kids ever came up to me and said, ‘Dad, I’m a vegetarian,’ then I would sit them on the fence and electrocute them.”    There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

Or so I pondered when my Kim and I made our way to Knead Dough Bar & Eatery, a plant-forward cafe on Gold Avenue.   From among my friends and my acquaintances, only my friend Elaine Rising would jump at the chance to visit a restaurant that showcases fresh vegetables.  She’s a vegetarian and much healthier than almost everyone I know.  Even my Kim isn’t a fan (though not for idealogical or argumentative reasons) of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.  I knew she’d forgive my duplicity in telling her Knead was a doughnut place once she had eaten at the cool, new spot which opened its doors in May, 2023.

A Once Familiar Space Has Been Transformed

Knead is located in a very familiar location, the two-story edifice which once housed the fabled Gold Street Cafe (and its legendary honey-glazed chile bacon).  Signage on the building still reads “Gold Street Acre” even though (as recently pointed out to me) it’s Gold Avenue, not Gold Street.  It’s only when you peruse the windows that it’s confirmed you’ve arrived at your delicious destination.  Knead owner and chef Steph Herrera and co-owner Cisco Chavez frequented the Gold Street Cafe years ago when it was one of the city’s premier brunch destinations.  While on vacation in the Duke City, they espied a “For Lease” sign on the vacant spot.  They jumped at the chance to revive the once bustling location.

From the exterior not much has changed since the long-gone days of the Gold Street Cafe.  It’s inside the cafe that’s undergone a make-over.  The spot is pristine.  There’s not much art on the walls nor much of any distraction save for the doughnuts and desserts at the front counter where you’ll place your order.  Much like the impulse temptations strategically positioned by the cash registers at a store, the doughnuts will grab your rapt attention…or trigger involuntary salivation.   Not only do these deep-fried delights  look absolutely stunning, they’re among the very best in the state.

Scones with Strawberry Preserves, Lemon Curds and Pecan Butter

One of the difference-makers behind the goodness of these doughnuts is that they’re made from mashed potatoes.  Chef Steph transforms ordinary taters into extraordinary potato brioche doughnuts.  Potato doughnuts may not be a big thing in the Land of Enchantment, but in more enlightened states (including Mississippi which somehow manages to rank higher in most quality of life factors than New Mexico ) “Tatonuts” are THE  thing.  For about six years, we lived about two miles from The Tatonut Shop in Ocean Springs.  Resisting potato doughnuts was my biggest challenge in meeting Air Force weight standards for my height.  Otherwise I’d have eaten my weight in those decadent temptresses.

Doughnuts aren’t listed on the menu, perhaps because Chef Steph rotates them.   The perpetual brunch menu offers breakfast at any time American favorites done deliciously different: pistachio pancakes (vanilla bean pancakes, lemon curd, oat fluff, pistachios), banana bread French toast (Pan Fried banana bread, flambéed bananas, Chantilly cream, brown sugar rum sauce) and a waffle-based Berry Chantilly (Belgian waffle,  raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, Chantilly cream and berry compote).   If your waistline dictates that you eschew calorific carbs, there are several other terrific options.

Ceasar Salad

Among plenteous beguiling options near the counter where you place your order are scones, two thick orbs per order unadorned with anything.  No glaze.  No toppings.  At first browse you might even mistake them for biscuits.  Served with the scones are three superb spreads: strawberry preserves, lemon curds and pecan butter.  Only the strawberry preserves are sourced from elsewhere; the other two are made on the premises.  All three elevate the dense, crumbly scones into buttery and flaky not overly sweet exemplars of carb deliciousness.

My Kim loves a good Caesar Salad (Chopped romaine, kale, Caesar dressing, blue corn dusted croutons, roasted cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, and grilled bread)–especially one made without anchovies.  No anchovies means the burden of giving the salad umami is left to the Parmesan.  Nor does she like croutons, even if they’re dusted in blue corn.  In other words, her version of what constitutes a great Caesar salad varies greatly from my version.  Still, the crispy romaine lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes and creamy Caesar dressing made for a refreshing and light salad everyone should enjoy (unless you love good Spanish anchovies as much as I do).

Cajun Lions Mane

Surprises aplenty are including items even your humble blogger has never before seen.  Among those are  the Cajun Lion’s Mane (thick sliced toast, lion’s mane cake, asparagus, sunshine sphere, and cajun cashew cream sauce).  It might have been my third or fourth choice had we not espied one being delivered to a nearby table.   It was so inviting that another guest and I were trying to out-nice each other.  She prove nicer.  Lion’s mane is a type of mushroom, one known for a unique appearance that resembles a (you guessed it) lion’s mane.  It’s healthy and delicious.  The mushroom is source locally and has been impacted severely by the drought.  The “sunshine sphere” turned out to be a vegan egg yolk which runs onto the other ingredients as it would on enchiladas.  The Cajun cashew cream sauce packed a spicy surprise while the artichokes lent their earthy, slightly bitter notes.  This was a filling and deliciously surprising dish.

Doughnuts are Homer Simpson’s favorite food.  In one memorable episode, he sold his soul for a doughnut.  Studying the doughnuts under the pastry case might actually have you deliberate mimicking Homer.  Knead’s doughnuts are edible works of art.  Naturally my Kim would have the birthday cake doughnut dotted with colorful sprinkles.  There were sprinkles on my chocolate doughnut, too, but I pretended they weren’t there.  Our favorite of three doughnuts was a donut whose center was stuffed with a strawberry and passionfruit cream.  It may be the single best doughnut we’ve had in Albuquerque, one that’s got me thinking it’s time New Mexico had a doughnut trail.

Birthday Cake Donut, Strawberry & Passionfruit Donut, Chocolate Sprinkles Donut

There may be a significant chasm between vegans and carnivores, but restaurants like Knead provide a much-needed middle ground with options that should appeal to all but the most staunch (myopic?) diners.  America needs more restaurants like Knead!

Knead Dough Bar & Eatery
218 Gold Avenue, S.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 347-8622
Website | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 August 2023
COST: $$
BEST BET: Cajun Lions Mane, Ceasar Salad, Scones, Chocolate Sprinkles Donut, Strawberry & Passionfruit Donut, Birthday Cake Donut
REVIEW #1350

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