Friday, May 26, 2017

Gone But Not Forgotten: Endgrain in Chicago

While going through old blog posts, I happened upon a draft of a post about Endgrain, a restaurant opened by the man some credited with launching the doughnut craze in Chicago. Endgrain was my obsession for a while, even if inconvenient for carless Chicagoans not on the Brown Line. I was saddened a couple years ago when it shuttered.

Endgrain founder Enoch Simpson was more than serious; he wanted people to give doughnuts the respect they deserve. Simpson talked the talk in a Guide to Doughnut Tasting, which, excepting the two bizarre and confusing opening sentences, offers some doughy insight into Chicago's grease-gone-gourmet obsession. Simpson also walked the walk, making the best overall textured doughnut menu in the city.

At the start, there were a mere four doughnut options for customers to choose from: the Butterscotch Bacon—their one constant—and three rotating selections. On most days, there was a jelly doughnut, a chocolate doughnut and a traditional doughnut with a unique glaze, what my waitress called a "vanilla doughnut" and what I'm calling a "rogue doughnut."

The Doughscuit.
After some time, Simpson decided that, rather than jumping on the cronut bandwagon, he’d make his own doughnut hybrid: the Doughscuit, a doughnut-come-biscuit filled with crème frache. It was buttery, sweet and creamy. This was followed by an alternative takes on his creation, including the German Chocolate Doughscuit. The original Doughscuit would go on to win the FirstAnnual DonutFest in Chicago, though I personally preferred the German Chocolate variety.

Despite the Doughscuit’s accolades, I always felt the crown jewel at Simpson’s Endgrain were the jelly doughnuts, which I wrote about in my review of the best of Chicago doughnuts. Put simply, it was the perfect jelly doughnut. And now, sadly, it is gone. My second favorite doughnut at Endgrain was the Butterscotch Bacon, a rare beacon of light in the bacon-doughnut craze. Their version had a gooey butterscotch coating, topped with crispy bacon. In my visits, I also tried Mochanut, Blackberry Peppercorn, Peaches 'n Cream, Nutella Milkstout, Chocolate Turtle and Salted Caramel.

Endgrain, you are gone, but not forgotten!

No comments: