Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Doughnut Vault is the latest food craze to hit Chicago. This mouthwatering pastry shop is only open in the mornings Tuesdays through Saturdays and sells out within a couple of hours each day. The Doughnut Vault was opened by the same folks who own Gilt Bar and Maude's Liquor Bar and is in a tiny nook of the same building that houses Gilt Bar. What is it about these fried treats that impels residents of the Windy City to wait on line for one to two hours to get their sugar fix? It is the combination of a quality product, scarcity and the urge to have the latest thing.
The Buttermilk Old Fashioned above was the last such doughnut available on the day of my visit. After an hour and half in line you bet I purchased it. Long faces were spotted in the line behind me as others had to content themselves with the other still worthy options. The Buttermilk doughnut had a great consistency - a good chew with some substance and with the glaze on top to sweeten the pot.
The following is courtesy of guest blogger "Kira", who is a local pastry expert. "I think the gingerbread doughnut with the cinnamon sugar coating was my favorite. The ginger came through in a subtle way and had a nice zing. The glazed doughnuts had an amazing, pillowy texture and really had that decadent "oh wow, I shouldn't eat anymore but I can't help myself" experience. It's be a long time since I've had a doughnut, let alone 3, but they were worth every calorie!"
The Gingerbread Stack ($3) sounded mysterious, but is actually a trio of gingerbread doughnuts gently dusted with cinnamon. It is the value option at only $1 per doughnut, the same price as their "dollar coffee."
The glazed doughnuts came in three varieties and we purchased the vanilla and the chocolate (pictured above). The chocolate ($3) is like the vanilla, but with an added chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles added in a decorative pattern. The consistency was soft and as Kira described "pillowy". So if you want the cake texture go for the Old Fashioned but if you want the softer lighter texture, the Glazed is your best bet.
The line felt insane on a Saturday morning. I arrived just before the 9:30 AM opening and didn't reach the counter until almost 11 AM. The Doughnut Vault opens Tuesday - Friday at 8:30 and Saturday at 9:30. Yes, they really do sell out in an hour to two hours max. I am not a fan of rationing by wait time as it can be rather aggravating and inefficient. Is it worth it? That is something only you can answer as it depends on how patient you are and how much you love doughnuts. I don't think I could do it again, but I'd be very happy if someone brought me some on my next trip to Chicago.
The Doughnut Vault: 401 & 1/2 North Franklin Street, Chicago. http://thedoughnutvault.tumblr.com/
Photographs courtesy of Kira.