Move over, cupcakes. Doughnut Vault has been the talk of the town since it opened a few months back. Heck, even our neighbor asked if we had tried it yet. Every day (except for Sunday and Monday when they close) brave souls stand in line before opening hours to buy their share of doughnuts. Throughout Doughnut Vault's opening hours, the line continues to form and it consistently stretches around the block. The average time spent standing in line is about 1 - 1.5 hours. They open at 8:30am on weekdays and 9:30am on Saturdays and stay open until they are sold out. The doughnuts are usually sold out by 11:00am or a little past that time. On National Doughnut Day (yes there is such a thing!), I woke up and decided to brave the line for doughnuts. T wasn't going to participate in the craziness. I brought a book with me to read which turned out to be a very good idea. And I guess I lucked out that I only had to wait 45 minutes(!).
Who would have thought Doughnut Vault would be this successful? It almost seems like whatever Brendan Sodikoff embarks on, it becomes golden. His other equally successful projects are Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar, and the future Ox Diner.
The blue facade of Doughnut Vault is an attention-getter in itself. It makes you curious. The name Doughnut Vault does not lie. Behind the rustic blue door is literally a vault that will fit about 5 people comfortably. Behind the tiny counter is only one employee taking your order and packing your doughnuts while also being the cashier.
I think standing in line for 45 minutes warrants getting each of the doughnut varieties so I got one of each except for the chestnut glaze which I ended up getting two pieces of. The lady behind the counter said, "Good choice. The chestnut is my favorite". For a dollar I also got a cup of Metropolis coffee, roasted locally in Chicago.
The huge glazed doughnuts were fluffy and airy. First bite into one of them and it felt like I was in doughnut heaven. The chestnut glaze, which turned out to be my favorite, had hints of chestnut flavor that were rightly subtle but not until you couldn't taste it. The vanilla and chocolate glazes are also wonderful options if you are going for the big fluffy and airy doughnuts.
Moving away from the fluffy and light texture of the glazed doughnuts, the buttermilk old-fashioned deserves a try as well. It looks almost like a crater doughnut with an uneven surface but don't let the look fool you. The edges and surface of the doughnut are crisp and the inside has a moist cake-like texture. Despite the cake-like texture, it is nowhere near dense. An order of the gingerbread stacks comes with 3 pieces and is a good idea for sharing. I never thought I would enjoy them as much since I've never been a terribly big fan of gingerbread in general. T, however, insisted we got the gingerbread stacks. These doughnut stacks changed my mind on how I feel about gingerbread. I am a convert now. While not overpowering, the taste was obviously there and had just the right amount. A hint of cinnamon added perfection to the flavor as a whole.
The leftover doughnuts keep well for a few days and they still taste as good after they are kept in the fridge. We either let it sit out in room temperature for 5-10 minutes or gave them a quick nuke in two 10-second successions in the microwave and they were as good as the day we got them from the store.
Doughnut Vault is worth the hype so if you have got some time to spare waiting in line for some doughnuts, go for it. You can also get a dollar coffee which will be your next best reward (besides the doughnuts) in form of caffeine boost for waking up and taking your place in line.
401 1/2 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Best Restaurateur of the Year 2011 Nominee, Brendan Sodikoff