Good by Hero, Hello HIFI.
The rotisserie restaurant co-founded by OTTO Pizza owners that opened with a bang and closed five months later, is now home to HiFi Donuts and Coffee. After siting vacant for almost a year, the key City Center spot opens Friday featuring from-scratch doughnuts, some made with beer — a Maine first.
“My partner came up with it,” said Ari Modugno, HiFi owner, who worked for six years as a general manager at OTTO.
By adding beer to sourdough starter, Modugno and partner Melissa Selvon, a UK native who cheffed in London and locally at The Front Room, introduce “a floral aroma which adds a lot to the doughnut experience.”
Besides beer doughnuts (spelled biere) HIFi makes sour cream doughnuts and French crullers. All fillings, a HiFi specialty, are made in house. “The curds, jellies and custards are my recipes,” said Selvon, who opens with blueberry burst, lemon curd and chocolate custard donuts.
George Howell Coffee from Massachusetts is the brew of choice. HiFi has a full fledged espresso program with shots, lattes and the ever-popular nitro cold brew on tap. On Thursday morning samples were handed out to happy passersby.
“We gave away 400 doughnuts and coffee today and were totally wiped out,” said Modugno. “The response was huge. We were tickled pink. We are wearing smiles on our faces even though we are exhausted,” he said.
With the Holy Donut a few blocks away on Exchange Street, have Portland’s doughnut wars begun?
“We complement them. What we offer is different,” he said. Instead of Maine potatoes, HIFI’s discs are “more egg and wheat based, more focused on the essence of ingredients in doughnuts.”
Let the taste testing begin!
HiFi Donuts and Coffee, 30 City Center Portland is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Sunday.