Labeling something a trend is tricky, but ever since Nightwood got the city hooked on its maple-bacon doughnuts and Brendan Sodikoff convinced the masses to line up hours in advance for a dozen glazed, it's safe to say that the doughnut is indeed having its moment in Chicago. So when former L2O chef Frances Brennan teamed up with partner Jeff Mahin to open a miniscule, standing room only doughnut operation in The Loop last week, the timing couldn't have been better. Still full from Paczki Day, I arrived at 8 A.M. at Do-Rite to see what the fuss was about.
And to my surprise, there was remarkably little fuss. The shop is tucked inside Petterino's, nearly unmarked except for a small red sign on the door. Inside, it's all business: order from the genial, obviously caffeinated gentleman behind the counter, then quickly pay, and take your goodies elsewhere. Because the shop only has room for about five people to stand inside at a time, it might be rude to stand for too long agonizing over the 12 incredible flavor choices, from peanut butter and jelly to almond Boston creme.
Allow me to assist. If it's available, go for the pistachio-Meyer lemon doughnut ($2.75). Out of the flavors sampled, it was the most balanced: a bright, citrus glaze holds the toasted pistachios perfectly in place, but isn't too sweet as to overwhelm the actual taste of the old-fashioned doughnut itself. Unlike the cinnamon crumble doughnut, which was much too spongy and soft, the dough of the pistachio-lemon variety is the proper chewiness and stands up formidably to the hefty toppings of nuts.
While it's fun to consider all the new flavor permutations Do-Rite can whip up (coconut milk! crème brûlée!), let's also guard ourselves against the over-trendification of what is, at its heart, a simple, all-American dessert. Let the cupcake serve as our cautionary tale.