Munchin’ with Michael: donuts

Michael Barthelemy, Food Critic

My favorite dessert. A classic American treat. While the donut can first be dated as far back as prehistoric civilizations, it was far from what we see today. A sweet donut featuring a hole in the middle didn’t come into fruition until closer to the 20th century. 

And thank goodness it did. It’s difficult to cite the reason behind why the simple concept of fried dough has become such a delicacy in today’s culture, but who’s complaining?

In my quest to find the best, I found three Evanston establishments that fit the bill: Bennison’s, DB3 and Sweet Temptations. I tried a chocolate donut as well as a glazed alternative. 

I feel like I can’t start this review before I address the inconsistency that lies within the glazed donuts. Each spot had a different version. I tried to sample chocolate glazed to stay with the theme of chocolate. However, Sweet Temptations did not offer this option, so I chose to try the classic glaze.

Alright enough talk, let’s get to munchin’.


DB3 Donuts

In the few years since DB3 has opened as an extension of the restaurant Ten Mile House, DB3 has thrived. Despite operating only three days a week and closing by 2 p.m., DB3 has become one of the hottest spots in North Evanston. Coming in with such high expectations, it was difficult to know if DB3 could live up to the hype.

Starting with the classic chocolate “raised” donut, I found myself disappointed. While the dough itself was of high quality and clearly fresh, it couldn’t make up for the frosting, which I found subpar. 

The frosting was more of a ganache which, for those who don’t know, is a version of frosting that often has a more liquid texture; it does not harden after sitting out. DB3 seemed to be using more of dark chocolate in the frosting rather than a more traditional semi-sweet. I was not a fan of this more bitter taste, and it took away from the idea of a traditional donut. I understand this place is trying to be different and put a spin on a classic, but it simply didn’t work here for me. 

The chocolate glazed donut, on the other hand, was fantastic. The chocolate cake base was much like Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation: crisp and hard on the outside, but soft on the inside. This dynamic works perfectly. The chocolate taste was fantastic and it showed me why DB3 has become so beloved. 

For the glaze, there is not a ton to say. It wasn’t too melty and was frosted over the top—a great partner to the cake.

Scores: 3.1/5, 4.4/5

Sweet Temptations

I had never heard of this place before this review. Looking for a spot in South Evanston, I happened to stumble upon Sweet Temptations, but it was nothing to brag about.

For starters, the dough was the densest I’ve ever had. The lack of fluffiness exemplified what a donut should avoid being. When eating dessert especially, it’s important that there is a light feeling so that you can’t feel too guilty about eating it. 

Looking past the density, the flavor… well, there really wasn’t much of it. Now the dough is not supposed to be some ultra-flavorful base but what separates the good from the great is the use of ingredients within the dough. Sweet Temptations’ dough was simply bland; it possessed little flavor and practically no sweetness. 

The chocolate frosting was quite solid. Nothing special, but it was the brightest spot of the donut. The issue that arose was in the frosting-dough ratio. There was pretty much no frosting in comparison to the brick that was the dough. So even though the frosting was good, it was greatly overshadowed.

Not much was different in the glazed donut. It was a classic glaze coating surrounding the dough, but once again, it was tough to taste the glaze over all of the dough.

Maybe donuts simply aren’t what Sweet Temptations specializes in, but for being a bakery offering donuts, they need to step up their game. 

Scores: 2.2/5, 2.6/5


Typically in Munchin’ with Michael, I try to avoid repeat reviews. If I have already reviewed a spot, I’ll try not to go again. But in the case of Bennison’s donuts, how could I resist? If I decided to skip it, there would be a mob of pitchforks and torches lined up outside of my house. 

Starting with the chocolate donut, it’s the base for what a donut should aim to become. The cake base was much like DB3in the way that the outside was a bit crisp, yet it maintained a fluffy inside. What made this donut stand out though was the slight lemon zest in the cake. While it threw me off a bit at first, it ended up being a nice surprise and worked well with the chocolate frosting.

As for that frosting, it was superb. The chocolate was thicker and felt fudgier than the others, and it gave a rich, classic chocolate flavor.

The glazed was more of the same, only the dough was not a cake batter. The dough was made to be light and act as a complement to the glaze and chocolate frosting. 

The glaze was a nice running partner with the chocolate. My only wish was that it had a bit of a stronger presence. Yes, it was there and yes, I could taste the glaze, but it seemed to be hiding in the shadows, afraid to take center stage.

Scores: 4.1/5, 3.9/5