Another day, another doughnut. Such is life while visiting Chicago! My third and final deep-fried adventure took me to Do-Rite Donuts, a chef-driven concept opened in early 2012 by Jeff Mahin and Francis Brennan.
Previously, Chef Brennan ran the kitchen at three-star Michelin rated L2O, while Chef Mahin served as chef-partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, opening Stella Barra Pizza and M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica.
Do-Rite serves up to twelve varieties of doughnuts every day using premium and seasonal ingredients. As a bonus, the kitchen is supposedly equipped with only two small fryers, which means that the chances of receiving a warm doughnut on each visit are very good.
We stopped in one afternoon to a limited selection and not-so-warm doughnuts, unfortunately.
From the varieties on hand, we selected three of Do-Rite’s signature buttermilk old fashioneds. The doughnut’s unique “flowering” effect is achieved by flipping the dough three times during deep frying.
The first old fashioned was glazed with dark Valrhona chocolate icing…
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I love how Chicago’s restaurants embrace excess, highlighting meat and fat in every form at all meals and price points. Sure it’s indulgent, reckless even, but under a thoughtful chef’s care, this kind of cooking can be exhilarating. See: Avec, Little Goat, and Au Cheval.
Sometimes though, especially after a few days of glorious extravagance, all I desire is the comfort of a warm bowl of noodle soup. Hello, Yusho.
Owned and operated by Chef Mathias Merges, formerly the Executive Chef at Charlie Trotter’s for fourteen years, Yusho is a “a yakitori-inspired restaurant.” The space was designed by Merges’s wife, Rachel Crowl.
The menu here is usually focused on grilled meats on a stick, but Sundays are dedicated to noodles. The special Sunday Noodles menu is priced at $20 per guest and includes a bowl of noodles, dessert, and a beverage. It was just what The Astronomer and I were craving after going balls to wall for meals on end.
We both selected alcoholic drinks to pair with our noodles. For me, a frothy coconut, lime, and rum “kegged cocktail” that was available on draught. Every sip whisked my taste buds off to somewhere warm and tropical.
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With its tremendous reputation, tiny space (just 1,400-square-feet), and no reservation policy, Au Cheval is one of the more difficult seats to snag in Chicago. After failing to score a table without a tortuously long wait several evenings in a row, I decided that dining right when the doors opened at 11 AM was my best bet. Sure enough, I was seated without a hitch at that early an hour.
Opened in 2012 by restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar, Doughnut Vault, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf), Au Cheval is the quintessential upscale diner. Sodikoff and Executive Chef Jason Vaughan (L20, A16) have dreamed up a sensational menu featuring updated diner classics and globally-influenced fare. The execution is phenomenal, surprising and delighting diners at every turn.
Joining The Astronomer and me for our super-early lunch was our friend Britta. More bellies means more smiles and more food—everyone wins!
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Chicago is ahead of the curve when it comes to the gourmet doughnut trend. Not only is there an abundance of establishments, but they are often chef-driven ventures. Taking deep-fried dough to the next level in every way, Chicago—I commend you.
One of the most successful local concepts is Glazed & Infused. The mini-chain is backed by Scott Harris of Mia Francesca, The Purple Pig, and Davanti Enoteca, among others. Behind the deep-fryer are Christine McCabe, onetime pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s, and Tom Culleeney, former head of Lettuce Entertain You‘s franchise operations with Krispy Kreme.
The doughnuts here are made from high-quality ingredients and are fried in trans-fat free oil. Fruity glazes and fillings often change with the seasons.
Every location is equipped with a microwave to capture that ever so fleeting fresh-from-the-fryer essence. The Astronomer was a huge fan of this amenity, while I thought it was a silly move considering the freshness of the doughnuts available on the premises. Day-old doughnuts, on the other hand, I’m all for nuking.
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