Heaven on the South Side: Old Fashioned Donuts

15 Jan

Donuts are like the hot dogs of the pastry world.  You don’t need any fancy trappings to get to the heart of donut quality.  It’s all about freshness, which we found by the box at Old Fashioned Donuts on the South Side of Chicago.  From classics (chocolate frosted donuts) to interesting new pastries (glazed croissants), we were more than satisfied.

Here’s what we found:

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Donut #1: Apple Fritter w/ Walnuts

Note the fritter's size in comparison with a human hand.

Coffee Girl:

Our lips tremble in loss as we sadly brush away the last crumbs from this, the King of Donuts.  We have been in the presence of majesty, and we are changed.  Is it, strictly speaking, a donut?  Who cares?  It is crunchy, it is sweet, it is salty, it has nuts and nuggets of tender baked apple.  It induces euphoria.  It strains credibility.  It strains our pants.  We do not care.  We don’t really care about anything any more.  We just want to lie on our bed and think of our beloved: Old Fashioned Donuts’ apple fritter.

Apple Fritter: Moist on the inside.

Donut Boy:

Sometimes with food, quantity is used as a substitute for quality.  “Hey, who cares how it tastes?  Look how much they gave me!”  Not so here.  Crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, this still-warm fritter set a new Pastry Standard that this humble Donut Critic thinks may be Unmatchable.  Real apple chunks mixed with walnuts on top made this fritter a thing of beauty.  Large, yes, but we ate every last bite.

Donuts #2-3: Chocolate & Vanilla Frosted Donuts

Coffee Girl:

Old Fashioned Donuts makes a very fine raised donut.  It is light but tasty, mushy but memorable, reminiscent of a Krispy Kreme but less gummy and more flavorful. Their chocolate and vanilla frosting is very good — sweet and simple with a luscious texture.

Donut Boy:

Soft and pillow-y.  Both frostings were very classical incarnations of their respective flavors.  The chocolate was milky and not too rich, and the vanilla was creamy and cool.  Both on top of light, airy yeast donuts.  Old Fashioned Donuts nailed two classics.

Donut #4: Caramel Frosted Cake Donut

Coffee Girl:

A stellar combination of crunchy on the outside, sweet and fresh on the inside of this cake donut, crowned with one of our favorites — thick caramel icing.  Our only regret is that Old Fashioned Donuts doesn’t make a raised donut with this same frosting; we wonder if the caramel taste would come through stronger with less competition from the donut itself.

Donut Boy:

When you start to get into caramel frosting, it’s easy to overstep the Sweetness Boundaries and end up with something overpowering.  Old Fashioned Donuts are no newbies to the Donut Game, though.  Distinct caramel flavor with a smooth texture.  The cake donut had a great crunch on the outside and I enjoyed the egg-y flavor it added to the mix.  Nice.

Donut #5: Glazed

Coffee Girl:

Coffee Girl was never one to turn away from embellishment, but that was before she tasted Old Fashioned Donuts’ plain glazed donut.  When one is in the presence of one’s true love, does one need to drape a decorative scarf around his neck?  One does not.  Let it be here known that Coffee Girl would hereafter be forever content with her own box of plain Old Fashioned Donuts’ glazed donuts, a cup of coffee, and all the doors of the car locked so that no one can disturb her.

Donut Boy:

This donut kind of left me speechless.  Luckily, we’ve got a picture to help us do the talking.  Light, still-warm, buttery, sweet, sticky.  Honestly everything someone could desire in a donut.  If we’d just gotten a dozen of these, we’d have been satisfied.  We must return.

Donuts #6-7: Jelly-Filled and Lemon-Filled

Donut Boy:

At this point in our samplings, I expected a quality pastry before I even bit in.  These two donuts did not disappoint.  Of the two, I preferred the more traditional strawberry jelly-filled, although the lemon-filled had more thorough Jelly Distribution (see below).  Granules of sugar added a nice crunchy texture, and the dough was substantial enough to support the jelly without competing with the flavors of either pastry.  Straight-up good.

Donut #8: Boston Kreme

Donut Boy:

It’s a shame, but I kind of took this donut for granted.  Tasted great, felt great on the tongue.  Who cares?  All of the donuts before it had been the same way.  So I will try not to downplay the fact that this was great: sweet custard, more of that great chocolate frosting (see above), plump and yielding.  Another classic nailed.

Donuts #9-10: Vanilla Frosted Shredded Coconut & Toasted Coconut

Coffee Girl:

O.K.  What is the deal with coconut on donuts, anyway?  We have tried and tried.  We have chalked it up to differences in bakeries and in the taste buds of different cultures.  But we now officially throw in the towel and down the gauntlet:  Who likes these things, anyway?  We can’t even taste the coconut!  There!  We’ve said it!  We invite your comments.

Donut Boy:

Agreed, agreed!  If no one called these Coconut Donuts, they’d probably just be called Vanilla Frosted Donuts with Texture Granules.  We know what coconut tastes like (see, “Almond Joy“), but we just can’t find it here.  That’s not to say these donuts don’t taste good — they taste great!  It’s just that they hardly seem different than the regular vanilla frosted ones.

Donuts #11-13: Chocolate. Glazed, and Plain Old Fashioned

Coffee Girl:

Sorry, but Coffee Girl just did not have time for these today.  Sure, I tasted them.  They were fine.  Does anyone have another plain glazed?  Was there a bite of the apple fritter left?  No?  Sigh.

Donut Boy:

These pastries definitely belong to a more old-school, less showy branch of baked goods.  Hefty and crusty, each donut dissolved nicely on the tongue and presented with more gentle flavors.  Great with coffee.

Donut #14: Glazed Croissant

Coffee Girl:

Now THIS was a nice surprise!  What a great idea!  A delicious, buttery, flaky croissant enrobed in a sweet, crackly sugar glaze.  Superb.  The dough stretches delightfully when we take a bite, so we have to rip it away.  Fresh, warm and fragrant, the glazed croissant could also easily be to blame if you find us holed up in our car, doors locked, windows steamed up, an Old Fashioned Donuts box open on our lap, with muffled cries of, “Just a minute!” answering any attempt at communication from the outside.

The inside of the croissant: fluffy!

Donut Boy:

So interesting to encounter the traditional buttery, egg-y flavor of a croissant mixed with a sweet sugary glaze.  Someone had their Thinking Cap on when they came up with these.  Delicious.

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Bakers at Old Fashioned Donuts busy making fresh donuts.

In closing, Old Fashioned Donuts is nothing short of a Donut Mecca.  The air smells of fried dough.  There is a constant buzz of activity as donuts continue to be made fresh for the patient but eager clientele.  On the South Side, they’re serious about their donuts.  Which makes it our kind of place.  We will be returning.  We recommend you check it out, too.

-CG&DB


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6 Responses to “Heaven on the South Side: Old Fashioned Donuts”

  1. JuleS May 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Yum… blue doughnuts!

  2. JuleS May 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Does Old Fahioned make and sell old-fashioneds?

    • coffeegirlanddonutboy May 3, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      They do indeed! They’re quite tasty, and good with or without coffee to dunk in (depending on what you’re into).

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