Looks like Dunkin’ Donuts, tastes way better: US Donuts in Berwyn, IL

16 Apr

When you first step into US Donuts & Coffee in Berwyn, IL, you might be inclined to run back outside and check the sign.  It instantly feels like you’ve walked into a Dunkin’ Donuts.  The rows of pastries behind the counter host a variety of flavors that is very similar to what you’d find at DD.  Even the color of the paper underneath the donuts is the same.

A closer look, though, reveals plumper, fresher-looking donuts.  While the prices are comparable ($6.56 for a dozen donuts!), the quality of the pastries is much higher.

Here’s what we found:

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Donut #1: Glazed

Coffee Girl: This is a mighty fine glazed donut — an excellent base upon which to build a Donut House.  The delicate raised dough, with its hint of fresh buttered dinner roll, has an excellent squishiness factor, not too mushy and not too firm, which finds its ideal companion in a sweet, crunchy glaze.  One of my favorite donuts here.

Donut Boy: Instantly, I tasted the butter in the dough (Flavor Points awarded).  The sweetness of the glaze came on quickly afterward, and these two achieved a nice balance.  Not quite as light as a Krispy Kreme, but a fine glazed donut in its own right.  Also one of my top picks.

Donut #2: White Frosted

Coffee Girl: Again, the raised donut was delicious.  We were initially disconcerted by the taste of the frosting, which we expected to be your standard vanilla issue but turned out instead to taste strongly of marshmallow.  Quite good. We probably would have taken to it more quickly if we’d known what to expect and hadn’t used up a couple bites in Flavor Sleuthery.

Donut Boy: When describing this donut, I’d have to start with “marshmallow” — a uniquely sweet flavor in a frosting with a pleasing viscosity.  Sprinkles are always good.  An interesting frosting flavor we’ve not encountered previously.

Donut #3: Chocolate Frosted

Coffee Girl: The variety of donuts here is clearly patterned after Dunkin’ Donuts’ menu; US Donuts just does it better.  This raised donut is fresh and delicately flavored, yet sufficiently robust to not squish itself into mush on the first bite.  The chocolate frosting is excellent.  You know, US Donuts may be on to something here in their decision to actually make the donuts on-site, rather than having them trucked in.  When it comes to Donutry, freshness is at least 80 percent of the game.

Donut Boy: This donut was quite classical in its Flavor Approach.  Straightforward milk-chocolate-y glaze on top of a raised yeast donut.  Light.  What I appreciated about this donut was the hint of butter in the dough.  Sometimes, dough can come as an afterthought, a simple platform to pile on frosting.  Not so here.

Donut #4: Peanut

Coffee Girl: I don’t know how one could improve on US Donuts’ entry in the Peanut Donut field.  Lovely fat chunks of peanut were glued together with a hardened, sweet white glaze that left nice globs of nut-encrusted sweetness behind in the box for picking at later.  Again, the cake donut was fresh and delicate, with its slightly over-bland taste perfectly complemented by a strong nuttiness.

Donut Boy: Truly a great donut.  We always appreciate actually being able to taste the toppings (we’ve had several encounters where this was not the case), and we were not disappointed here.  Underneath all those peanuts, a crunchy, crumbly cake donut lay waiting.  Delicious.

Donuts #5 & #6: Jelly and Strawberry Jelly

Donut Boy: If you never had to actually taste either of these donuts, you could be fine.  Both were pleasantly plump-yet-light, with a tantalizing coating of granulated sugar.  Both, upon cutting into them, revealed themselves to be adequately filled with their jellies.  But, alas, the Moment of Tasting proved to be a disappointment.  Strong hints of artificial flavoring announced themselves immediately, after which an off-putting, runny jelly left an unhappy texture in the mouth.  Kind of like someone stuffed a whole bunch of mashed-up fruit snacks into the middle of what could have been a decent donut.  Avoid these.

Donut #7: Buttermilk

Coffee Girl: Very sugary.  A little too sweet, actually.  The bumpy crunchiness is wonderful, and the consistency of the cake inside is moist and delicate.  But even with our standard practice of one-sip-of-coffee-for-every-bite-of-donut, the sweetness of this donut became cloying after a couple of bites.

Donut Boy: This donut had heft!  I was pleased by its crunch and by the way the cake dough quickly dissolved upon the tongue.  Sweetness aside, the actual flavor of the pastry wasn’t anything to phone home about.  I suspect this would be a good donut for dunking, though.  This could be right up your alley.

Donut #8: Chocolate Frosted Glazed Chocolate Cake

Coffee Girl: Quite nice, although I didn’t fall for this donut as hard as Donut Boy did.  He loved it so much I had to ask him why he didn’t just marry it, but I kept my head and, despite the freshness of the cake and the fine frosting, continued to wait for my True Donut Love of the morning, which I was soon to meet (see Donut #4).

Donut Boy: My favorite donut of the bunch.  Crunchy, rich chocolate cake dough surrounded by a sweet, crispy glaze.  The chocolate frosting really sent this donut over the top and into my heart.  Lovers of chocolate and/or donuts should check this one out!

Donut #9: Chocolate Frosted Cake

Coffee Girl: It was OK.  I’d put this donut in the category of, “You only brought one kind of donut and it’s chocolate frosted cake?  Sounds perfect!”

Donut Boy: After the previous donut, this donut didn’t seem that impressive.  Nice frosting and pleasing cake dough, but just not as much oomph as its flashier relative (see above).

Donut #10: Pink Frosted

Coffee Girl: I’m reminded of the time my mother put purple food coloring in my thermos of milk in my school lunchbox.  Woah! thought I, eyeing it suspiciously.  It did not taste right.  We expected the frosting on this appetizing raised donut to be strawberry, as is usually the case when one encounters pink frosting on a donut.  But not so.  After again having to invest several bites to pure detective work, we solved the mystery:  bubble gum.  The answer here is clearly to ask your children if they would like a bubble-gum frosted donut and then to bring them to US Donuts.  But a lack of accurate labeling just leads to confusion for the earnest Donuteer.  And the last thing you want to do is confuse a Donuteer.  We become disoriented and are liable to bump into things.

Donut Boy: The sign said “Strawberry Frosted,” but we’re not fools.  This donut’s frosting was undeniably bubble gum, a confrontational sweetness that proved too much to handle in the early hours of Donut Exploration.  No, thank you.

Donut #11: Blueberry

Coffee Girl: While quite similar to the buttermilk donut, this entry benefited from its strong blueberry taste.  Still too sweet for me, though, and that’s saying something.

Donut Boy: Like the buttermilk donut (see previous), this donut had a pleasing texture and crunch.  Very sweet.  It left no doubt that it was blueberry you were experiencing.

Donut #12: Boston Kreme

Donut Boy: I would have liked the custard to be a little thicker, but this was still a good Boston Kreme.  When it comes to dough, the balance between lightness and support is a delicate one to achieve — you don’t want it to be too dense, but it has to be strong enough to hold the filling — and US Donuts did a good job in this area.  I’d get this one again.

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Our adventure this morning just goes to show — never judge a pastry shop by its outward appearance.  They don’t have to be glamorous, just fresh.  US Donuts understand this, and offers up some truly tasty donuts, clearly made on-site with care.  If you’re looking for some no-frills pastry goodness, this is your stop.

Until next week!

-CG&DB


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2 Responses to “Looks like Dunkin’ Donuts, tastes way better: US Donuts in Berwyn, IL”

  1. Michelle Saucedo July 29, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    I live less than a block from this place and pass it constantly but have never tried it. Thank you for giving me a heads up about the different donuts. I really appreciate it. I will try them real soon.

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