Dat Donut

(Sam Jones)

Rainbow sprinkled, toasted coconut, Boston cream pie, strawberry glazed, chocolate cake: these are only a portion of the twenty-five flavor spectrum of donuts offered at Dat Donut. With a red sign rivaling the size of its donut selection, the outpost is easily visible at the corner of 83rd and Cottage Grove. Rows and rows of fresh, handmade donuts fill a cramped pastry case, which is patronized both by locals and discerning out-of-towners.

As we stood surveying the goods, stupefied, the women behind the glass continued on with their work. “No rush,” one piped up. Should we get two each? Split a box of six? We were crippled by indecision in the face of such a spread. When another patron joined the line behind us, we were finally pressured to make our move. We approached the register and asked for half a dozen.

We had heard tales of the infamous glazed, so we decided to start with two. My friend went for the jelly, myself for the chocolate Long John. Now we were stumped. How were we to choose from the glut of varieties? A consultation from the Dat employee behind the counter steered us in the direction of their cake donuts. Pointing at a few, she listed flavors such as lemon, chocolate, and lastly, buttermilk. Intrigued, we chose the latter. Our final selection was made more easily: a caramel-iced original.

With our loot bundled into a white paper bag, we paid with credit card, walked over to the diner counter, and  grabbed a seat. The caramel confection came first–it’s light, fluffy interior perfectly complementing the rich, caramel frosting. Next was the highly recommended buttermilk cake donut. Cake donuts are generally much denser than regular ones and have a much stronger flavor. Although the buttermilk variety was well executed, cake donuts are a bit too rich for my liking, and just a bite was enough.

We decided to move on to our individual preferences. Unlike the previous two tastings, Long Johns and jelly donuts are not meant for splitting in pieces–Long Johns’ frosting invariably is partisan to one side, and a jelly donut never splits its filling fairly. Instead, we each took a giant bite. Chocolate frosting got on my nose and powdered sugar exploded all over my companion’s jeans, but not a single patron cast a disapproving glance; everyone seemed to agree that donuts should be enjoyed with fervor.

We came to the most anticipated sample of our survey: the classic glazed. Not as exciting as the Boston crème, or as fruity as the (real!) strawberry-iced, the classic glazed looks like any other Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts product. But chain-store mass-produced average this pastry was not.

Dat Donut loves their classic so much that they even offer a fabled supersized version. On the very bottom shelf sat three of the saccharine behemoths. About three or four times the size of the standard offering–which aren’t petite themselves–this giant donut retained all the taste and fluffiness of a donut more modest in magnitude.

Saving the traditional glazed for last was wise: while the others were tasty, and certainly inventive, the classic has everything one wants (and more importantly, needs) in a donut. The glaze was sweet, but not too sticky or overpowering. Where the glazed thinned, the donut offered. Complementary textures sang in sweet combinations–the icing met the crispy fried dough just enough to crackle with each bite.  Inside the donut was white, cloud-like goodness that dissolved immediately on the tongue.

As we walked out the door, a man in line asked us for a recommendation. My response was automatic–the classic glazed.  As he approached the counter I heard him ask for two.

A classic is a classic for a reason.

Dat Donut, 8249 S Cottage Grove Ave. Monday, 4am-Saturday, 10pm. (773)723-1002.