Doughnut overload | Bleader

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Some might argue that Chicago is quickly becoming overloaded with doughnuts, with all the recent doughnut boutique openings, and is reaching a saturation point. More on that later, but I'm actually talking about my own personal overload. While I like doughnuts, one is usually plenty for me. Today, I've eaten ten. OK, not whole ones. But that's still a lot. Glazed and Infused, the soon-to-open chain of doughnut shops from Scott Harris (yes, it'll be a chain pretty much right off the bat), had a media tasting this morning with most of the lineup from its opening menu.

The company boasts that it uses all natural ingredients, no trans fats, and makes the doughnuts fresh each hour. They're pushing it a little with their claims to a "wholesome" product: trans fats are terrible for you, so cutting them out improves things, but we're still talking about sugary deep-fried dough here. Still, even if the doughnuts aren't the healthy snack that the Glazed and Infused marketing mavens would have you think, they are pretty damn good. The cake varieties—particularly the red velvet, lemon, and old-fashioned—were surprisingly light and fluffy, crunchy on the outside, and not overly sweet. The one exception was the soft, dense chocolate-frosted vanilla.

I usually prefer cake doughnuts to the kind made from raised dough, but the creme brulee-filled bismarck, intensely vanilla with a crunchy bruleed crust of sugar on top, was one of my favorites. The classic apple fritter, cinnamony and crunchy with little pieces of apple on top, was another, but it may have been surpassed by the bacon cruller, a cake doughnut topped with bacon-brown sugar caramel and pecan pieces that had some smokiness from the bacon and an intense caramel flavor with notes of burnt sugar. The best, though in my admittedly biased-toward-lemon opinion, was a lemon cake doughnut filled with yuzu curd and topped with lemon glaze and candied zest.

And as for the rumors that Chicago has already reached doughnut saturation? People, there are only two new artisan doughnut shops so far, albeit ones that have gotten enough hype for two dozen. The openings of Glazed and Infused will bring the total of new places to five. But there are a lot more cupcake shops than that, and much as food writers like to complain about the ridiculous number of them in the city, they don't seem to be going anywhere.

The exact opening dates of the first three locations haven't been announced yet, but the first will be in early April at Francesca's Forno (1576 N. Milwaukee); it's a marble-topped counter in the corner of the restaurant facing Damen, and will have a carry-out window and curb service (you can order ahead and an employee will bring your doughnuts out to your car). Next will be a location at 813 W. Fulton Market in mid-April, and one at 929 W. Armitage in mid-June.

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