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The Sunday Doughnut Shop is the idea of sous chef Vincent Knittel and head pastry chef Jeremy Brutzkus, who won a recent episode of Donut Showdown on the Cooking Channel. It will feature "a changing (weekly) selection focusing on classics, as well as seasonally-inspired varieties, while supplies last." On the TV show Brutzkus made a miso, fennel seed, and ground almond doughnut and a salmon and cream cheese bagel doughnut, among others, but so far the offerings seem more approachable, such as Boston cream or peach cobbler. And yes, of course they sold out. They're doughnuts.
As it happens, I ate at Longman & Eagle later that same Sunday night . . . including a dessert featuring doughnuts. It was my first return to the restaurant in a while, though Longman had been a favorite of mine in the 18 months or so after its opening in early 2010 (actually, after its win at Baconfest a few months later, which seemed to really put it on the radar).
I hadn't been back simply because, by 2012, Longman & Eagle's progeny were all over town (especially Logan Square) and I was trying them—not just the ampersand restaurants, Bangers & Birds & Donkey & Engine, but others that owed something to the Longman model, or at least went to the same church, like Farmhouse or Trenchermen or Billy Sunday. No surprise that it was influential; Longman & Eagle was the rare restaurant that spoke perfectly to its moment—comfy porky small plates with fancy, we-could-make-everything-like-this-if-we-wanted touches, encyclopedic seriousness about beer and whiskey, a uniform of flannel shirts and alt-country on the sound system, a whiff of Portland "Don't like it? Fuck you" attitude (though the Longman folks showed some very Chicago sardonic good humor in reprinting their worst Yelp review and handing it out as a postcard). Even Michelin realized that they needed to notice it if they wanted to look up-to-date, giving Longman & Eagle the only Michelin star won by a place that would piss off your grandparents.
Returning the other night, I found a Longman & Eagle that for the first time, ever so slightly, seemed to be preserving a lifestyle moment rather than embodying the current one. Much of the menu is what it was three years ago (yes, there is a wild boar ragu sloppy joe with fried sage on the menu, as there was the day it opened), though presentation has gotten artier—possibly as the result of a sojourn in the kitchen by former Graham Elliot chef Brian Runge. (A salad of compressed melon and a smoked creme fraiche on a chicken dish suggested his food at the short-lived Premise.) Chef Jared Wentworth has other projects to focus on now, including
Parson's and an upcoming Hyde Park venture, and Longman felt a little, well, less garage band and more Longman & Eagle Inc. that night.
That is, until dessert came—warm, squishy squares of doughnut in a mad Technicolor knife fight of bursting, wildly contrasting flavors, black sesame puree and coconut sorbet and puckeringly tart lime-palm sugar granita. It was the kind of dish that practically dared you to go out back and get a piece of it. It was the Longman & Eagle we all knew back when. Yeah, you're gonna want to see what they're doing with doughnuts this Sunday.
Longman & Eagle, 2657 N. Kedzie, 773-276-7110, longmanandeagle.com