The love of doughnuts was instilled in me at a very young age. At not even two years old my favorite breakfast was “yo-yo and do-do” which roughly translates to “yogurt and doughnut.” Growing up I preferred Entenmann’s Variety Pack: 12 cake doughnuts, four plain, four sprinkled with powdered sugar, and four dusted with cinnamon sugar. I would warm one up in the microwave, to soften it up just a bit, then savor each bite until I chased it back with a cold glass of skim milk. How I managed not to develop pediatric diabetes is beyond me.
An important fact to note is I have always had a deep-seeded preference for old-fashioned cake doughnuts, not glazed. I find them to be cloyingly sweet, and literally full of hot air. I am totally racist when it comes to my doughnuts.
I woke up early on Tuesday February 12th to pay The Doughnut Vault a visit. I knew it was a popular spot, and has been known to have lines around the block for people to get their little hands on these upscale dough cakes. Also, it was Fat Tuesday and it felt appropriate. Most importantly though, the following day would mark my first day of a thirty-day no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no soy elimination diet. Also known as thirty days of misery. I will expound upon why I am doing this in a later post. Regardless, doughnuts aren’t allowed on the diet.
I arrived at their space in River North a few minutes before 8:30 am, and there was already a small line out the door. I parked my car and scurried over to secure a spot only to be greeted by a rather menacing sign:
Ugh. I do want to point out the inability to accept credit cards is listed nowhere on their website.
I rushed to a nearby drugstore to receive some cash monies and jogged back to secure a new place in line. I am serious about doughnuts people. A nice thing about this area of town is its located nearby the Blommer Chocolate Company, and at certain times of day the air will smell of chocolate. It primed my senses for some doughnut goodness.
Back in line, cash in hand, I was ready to see (and taste) what all the fuss is about. When it was my turn to step inside, I quickly realized why there is always a line out front…because the space inside can only comfortably hold about five grown adults. Very smart move Doughnut Vault peeps…very smart move indeed.
Housed in what used to be an old bank vault (hence the name), the space is warmly lit from two overhead crystal chandeliers. Lined with with white subway tiles, exposed brick archways and an old-fashioned gold cash register at the helm, the space is quaint and cozy with a timeless sensibility.
Now is the point where I would show you a few interior decor shots, but as soon as I went to shoot my first photo…my phone died. It was very sad. So here are a few pictures I found on the web, just so you can…you know…see it for yourself.
Each day, in addition to their regular offerings listed above, they offer daily specials. On Fat Tuesday they were serving red velvet cake doughnut with cream cheese frosting, along with a jelly doughnut filled with orange marmalade. I picked up both of the specials, along with one of each of their daily offerings (out of the three glazed options I went with chestnut). Not all for me mind you, I fully intended to share them with The Jürg.
Box of seven doughnuts in hand (their daily gingerbread stack is actually three doughnuts) I piled myself back into my car, flipped the lid and took a much-anticipated first bite of the buttermilk old-fashioned.
Now this is where I summarize my overall Doughnut Vault experience: What’s all the fuss about?
First off none of my doughnuts were “piping hot” as they advertise on their website, heck they weren’t even warm. I realize that is likely a product of where you are in line, but its a disappointment nonetheless. The buttermilk old-fashioned cake was rich and buttery, but sadly it was covered in a too sweet sugary glaze which I personally felt took away from what was a great cake.
Nothing I brought home was bad, but nothing was great either. Certainly nothing I tried would ever encourage me to wait in any sort of line for any length of time beyond five to ten minutes. And, I will wait in line: For the amazing hot dogs from Hot Doug’s, the bestpizza I’ve ever tried from DiFara’s in Brooklyn, burgers from Kumas Corner and Shake Shack, authentic and delicious Mexican style street food at Rick Bayless’ Xoco. I’ll do it, but it needs to be worth it. I’m talking, taking a bite, closing ones eyes and letting out a low-level hum because the flavors, the textures, the entire experience is almost overwhelming.
Otherwise I can just buy a variety pack of Entenmann’s and be done with it.
Oh and the total cost for my doughnuts: $13