Donuts Done Right At Do-Rite
Very few things will wake us early enough to squeeze into a crowded train and head down to the loop with the early birds in suits. One of those things: doughnuts. Not just any sugar-loaded, hot pink-frosted, artery-clogging pastry, but a real gourmet treat, served fresh from the fryer and dripping with toppings made from the finest ingredients such as Valrhona chocolate and Tahitian vanilla. Last week, we set our alarm and started the morning right at Do-Rite Donuts.
The cozy counter is cut out of the storefront of Petterino’s. There is no sign, only a bright red awning and the unmistakable aroma of fresh-baked pastries. We walked in and were greeted by blasting top forty radio, friendly doughnut dealers and a wall of fluffy deliciousness in every shape, size and flavor. The tiny space relies on the basement of the restaurant to cook, and fresh pastries are wheeled through Petterino’s to reach what could be labeled a doughnut closet.
We first greeted the menu with a look of overwhelmed confusion; think a fourth grader staring at their math homework. The choices range from traditional (classic buttermilk old-fashioned) to more adventurous (peanut butter and jelly or maple bacon). Just when we began to accept the idea of candied bacon artfully cut into triangles and arranged on a maple-frosted crueler, the doughnut masters themselves arrived with, guess what? More doughnuts.
Chefs and co-owners Francis Brennan and Jeff Mahin created the menu of 50 rotating flavors. Brennan was responsible for the bread program at L2O, while Mahin was a chef and partner of Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica, California (both Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, the financial backer for the shop and owner of Petterino's).
We have established that these donuts look good and are made by fancy chefs, but when the frosting stops oozing down the sides, the only thing that matters is how they taste. The merits of a doughnut can be measured by two qualities: the base and the coating. First is the fluffiness factor: these were like biting into a chewy pillow. Second, the topping: it balanced the light base with thick coat of glaze. We knew we were getting a quality confection when we could see vanilla bean specks in the filling of our Boston Crème, topped with sliced almonds. What better to wash it down with than cup of Dark Matter Coffee? A special blend was prepared for the store.
Does all of this sound familiar? Do the words Doughnut Vault come to mind? Well, now they have a competitor offering more variety and - for now - a shorter line. In a few weeks another competitor will enter the doughnut arena: Glazed & Infused is rumored to be opening adjacent to Francesca’s Forno.
We’re calling it: doughnuts are the new cupcake.
Do-Rite Donuts is located at 50 W. Randolph Street. It opens at 6:30 AM, Monday through Friday, and stays open until there are no more donuts. Last fry is 11:00.
By Sarah Freeman