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Returning to a South Side Staple: Dat Donut

14 Jan

As we enter this new Donut Year, we find ourselves glancing backwards through our past journeys for inspiration.  Upon further reflection, we realize we have not yet scored some tried-and-true Donut Meccas.

You see, Dear Readers, scattered around the South Side of Chicago lie some of the best donut shops in the city.  In fact, they’re quite likely some of the best donut shops in the greater Chicagoland area, if not the entire Midwest (here at Breakfast Adventures we’re not afraid to make drastic Donut Statements).  Old Fashioned Donut, Abundance Bakery, and Dat Donut are a few to name.

It was the third of these we decided to return to this morning and re-evaluate.

Dat Donut from outside: It don't look like much.

Dat Donut, also sometimes called Dat Old Fashioned Donut, is known on a national level for delivering good, fried, down-and-dirty donuts.  We visited them once before but returned this morning to examine their offerings more critically and assign them a ranking.

Here’s what we found: Continue reading

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Happy holidays and a frosty new year from CG&DB!

24 Dec


Letizia’s Fiore Bakery: Face to Face with Pretention

10 Dec

Dear Readers, we thank you sincerely for keeping up with our adventures.  We’ve been receiving several Pastry Tip-Offs lately, which make our job that much easier.

Our tip this week came from Ms. Triphena Wong, who pointed us in the direction of a donut list compiled by Serious Eats, a website for people like us who enjoy categorizing and itemizing food.

We’ve been to several of these places already, but a few new names popped out.  First up: Letizia’s Fiore Bakery in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.

Letizia’s prides themselves on their all-natural, organic ingredients.  We weren’t totally sure how this would work in the world of donuts, but we knew we had to check it out.  So we hopped in the Donut Mobile and headed over.

Letizia’s is definitely an upscale place; we felt a little under-dressed as we slunk in, prowling for donuts.  It seems like it’d be a great location at which to come back and have a legitimate meal.  Still, we pushed these thoughts from our minds and secured our donuts before retreating to the Donut Mobile.

Here’s what we found:

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Chocolate Frosted

Coffee Girl: Uh-hunh, uh-hunh … so the first thing to say about these donuts is that they are natural and organic.  Frankly, I’m a lot happier when the first thing to say about a donut is that it’s delicious.  Not nearly so important — at least to yours truly — is the donut’s biography.  This is not Rocket Science, you overly self-conscious foodies with too much time on your hands.  This is Donuts, which I divide into two categories:  Good Donuts and Bad Donuts.

But it’s also important to be nice, so here’s what I’m going to say about Letizia’s Fiora’s donuts:  they are Interesting.  The doughnut itself is surprising in the subtlety of its taste.  After a disconcerting initial taste of almond, however, the flavor wandered off and got lost somewhere in the land of Where the Hell’s the Sugar?  Donuts Are Supposed To Be Sweet, Letizia!  Nevertheless, I kept chewing, next noticing that the donut failed to achieve any Crunch to separate the Texture Experience into the two necessary components of the True Donut:  crunchy exterior and soft inside.

Donut Boy: I can honestly say the dough in this donut is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  Strong hints of butter and frying oil, but an overall more nutty flavor, as opposed to super-sweet doughs one sometimes encounters.  The chocolate frosting was creamy and an interesting balance to the more savory dough, but I still needed more sweetness.

Score: 6.5

Vanilla Frosted

Coffee Girl: Sadder but wiser, I was prepared for Letizia’s next offering.  Same curious, kosher-tasting, slightly soggy donut.  Good frosting.

Donut Boy: Pleasing texture to the frosting, but a somewhat timid flavor profile that I forgot moments after ingesting.  Meh.

Score: 6.5

Sugar

Coffee Girl: Same donut + lack of frosting = Unhappy Donuteer.

Donut Boy: I always enjoy a nice crunchy sugared donut.  Here, though, the sugar wasn’t enough to overcome the nutty pastry.  I felt like I was eating very refined bread.  I suspect dipping it in coffee would have helped, but I prefer a donut that doesn’t require assistance.

Score: 4.8

Raspberry Frosted

Coffee Girl: Fantastic frosting!  Thank you, Letizia!  Real raspberries seemed to be involved.  Delicious.  This by-now-deflated Donuteer savored the beginning of a large bite of this donut, then quickly fell asleep to avoid tasting that dough again.

Donut Boy: This donut would be the winner of the bunch for me.  An interesting frosting (really, how often do you ever come across raspberry frosting in the Donut World?) that paired the best with Letizia’s dough.  Here, the whole package makes the most sense.

Score: 7.5

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One of the most intrinsically appealing qualities about donuts is their lack of pretension.  Places like Letizia’s make us a little uneasy, to be honest.  Donuts should come in cheap boxes and be, like, $7 for a dozen.  Not $2.50 each.  Let’s not over-think things here, let’s just heat up some oil and get to frying.

OVERALL SCORE: 7.0

Letizia’s clearly puts great work into their baked goods — each and every pastry was beautifully and thoughtfully put together.  Cosmetics should come after nailing down flavors, though.  For that reason, we can’t recommend Letizia’s to anyone who enjoys a good donut (or two) and a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.  Save your money and look elsewhere for your Donut Fix.

By all means, keep the Donut Suggestions coming.  We’ve got a good few months of investigating ahead of us, but we’re always happy to take on a little more work.

Until next week!

-CG&DB

Taking the Time to Bake it Right: Beverly Bakery

15 Oct

In this fast-paced modern age in which we live, it’s important to remember a Donut Truism: Always leave yourself time to stop and smell the frying oil.

Similarly, it never hurts to have your eyes peeled for bakeries when you are driving places.

We’ve been near Beverly Bakery in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood several times, but only recently did we notice it and make a plan to take action.  This Saturday, we acted on that plan.  (Special thanks to Angela for the tip-off.)

The place was warm and inviting upon entering.  Beverly Bakery actually specializes in house-roasting many different varieties of coffee (spoiler alert: the coffee is delicious), and it was clear that a great amount of care is put into all aspects of the operation.

After ordering a quick dozen donuts, we returned to the Donut Mobile for taste analysis.  Here’s what we found:

Continue reading

Too Much Time Spent Chewing: Pticek’s Bakery

1 Oct

A little while back, we paid a visit to Weber’s Bakery, a pretty large, well-established Chicago bakery.  As we were making our return trip to Donut HQ, another nearby bakery caught our eye.

Located at 55th & Naragansett, Pticek’s Bakery is a small, unassuming place.  Upon entering, it was immediately apparent that they had many things besides donuts to offer.

We, however, had no time for anything else.  After ordering a quick dozen donuts, we headed out to the Donut Mobile to conduct some taste tests.

Here’s what we found:

Continue reading

A Return to Bridgeport: Impallaria Bakery

24 Sep

For a little while, it’s been feeling like we’ve started to dry up the Chicago area’s supply of donut shops.  Frequently, someone will say to us, “Oh, have you been to such-and-such place?  I heard they’re really good.”  To which we reply, “Oh yes, we’ve been there, their chocolate frosted donuts are to die for.”

In these times of Donut Uncertainty, we have begun to reach out to friends and colleagues, eager to investigate any place we have not yet checked out.  This is how we got wind of Impallaria Bakery in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago.

We’ve ventured into Bridgeport before (see our write-up of Bridgeport Bakery) and were very happy with the trip.  We hoped that this morning’s adventure might yield similar results.

Here’s what we found:

Continue reading

Chomp, Chomp, Gone: A Return to Krispy Kreme

10 Sep

Krispy Kreme is one of those rare brand-names that has become virtually synonymous with the product it sells (see also: Kleenex, Band-Aid).  Unfortunately, a few years back, some quack named Atkins came out with a fad diet that frowned upon certain awesome foods.  Krispy Kremes bore the brunt of this shunning, and locations everywhere began shutting down.

However, if you do a little searching, you can still find a few store locations open.  The closest one to Donut HQ is located in Elk Grove, IL, and they are serving up fresh Krispy Kremes in a variety of flavors.  We’ve been here before (and we had a great time), but we decided to make a return trip this morning in order to objectively score the pastries.

Here’s what we found:

Continue reading