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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SAVOR: Glazed and Infused; Rockit Burger Bar
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2012-04-11

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Trying to prove that there's room for more sugary goodness in Chicago, the donut shop Glazed and Infused (love that name) is slated to open at three stops in April, including Francesca's Forno in Wicker Park.

In a press release, the owners stated that "[o]ur executive chefs felt it was time to bring back this iconic specialty with an artisan twist, focusing on quality, great flavors and a healthier approach."

I know what you're thinking: Healthy doughnuts? According to the people behind Glazed, the doughnuts will be "made fresh each hour, each day from whole and natural ingredients (butter, eggs, cream, fruit and local ingredients, when available)." In addition, the items will be free of trans fats—and most people know how damaging those fats can be.

However, there are also twists on the doughnuts. For example, the vanilla bean glazed doughnuts contain all natural real vanilla beans, and the chocolate is shipped directly from South American farmers.

In order to be more accessible to morning commuters, Glazed and Infused is partnering with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and placing its shops adjacent to busy public transportation locations—hence, the site in Wicker Park, at the intersection of North, Milwaukee and Damen.

Each location will open at 6:30 a.m. and serve fresh doughnuts (traditional and culinary-influenced cake and yeast items) as well as coffee. The initial shops will open at Fulton Market in the West Loop; the aforementioned Francesca's (which will also offer the treats at 10 p.m.); and a spot near the Armitage Brown Line stop in Lincoln Park.

Megan Brown of Glazed and Infused said at a media event that "it's not like we're inventing anything new, but what we are doing is every different. … We also want to provide curbside service.

"So let's say you're a pharmaceutical sales rep. The night before, you can order online. Guess what? It's ready for you the next morning, and we run it out to you. … It's about having a one-on-one relationship with our customers."

Recounting the history of donuts, Brown said that "in the 1930s and '40s, donuts were given out as rewards. It was almost a sacred item. Over time, it became commoditized, and easier and cheaper to get. We're bringing that old-school feeling back."

As for joining forces with the CTA, Brown said that the transit authority "was wonderful to work with. They made it so easy to get into that space and get the lease done. … They are all about enabling the experience for the rider." (Note: Having buses come by more regularly would enable the experience as well, but I digress.)

I have to say that tasting is believing. For me, the best items were the maple-bacon long john (which has a long strip of bacon on a maple-frosted john) and the apple fritter. Patrons will be dazzled by the choices, which also include crème brulee, Bavarian cream, the old-fashioned, malted milk chocolate, red velvet and cinnamon crumb, among many others.

Brown added that there will be a new donut 52 weeks a year, with that flavor being on the menu for only a week. She also said that on the website there'll be a fan page, where people can post photos of themselves eating the items in various places; in addition, there'll be contests in which people can provide feedback and suggest new flavors.

See www.GlazedAndInfusedDoughnuts.com . Stay tuned for more news regarding the actual opening dates of the shops.

Rockit man

By its location alone, the Rockit Burger Bar should pull in the customers—at least during Cubs season. At 3700 N. Clark St., this cousin of the Rockit Bar & Grill is just steps away from Wrigley Field and, during home games, Wrigleyville is a sea of blue and white.

However, should patrons return to Rockit in the off-season? Absolutely. The décor is very sports-friendly, the crushworthy staff is just friendly, period—and, then, there are the food and drinks. During a media preview, I got to sample a few items, and these were among the standouts:

—Truffle mushroom pizza: It's topped with a mix of wild mushrooms, gruyere, thyme and truffle crème fraiche—and the ingredients interact beautifully.

—Rockit Burger: It has the most basic name of any of the sandwiches on the menu, but its taste is anything but fundamental. It's kobe beef topped with melted brie, fried shallots and Medjool date aioli, and it's served on red onion brioche bun—with truffle fries. Is it possible to fall in love with a burger—or at least with Executive Chef Amanda Downing?

—The Macdaddy: Proceed at your own risk. It's a Black Angus patty with braised beef short rib, mac & cheese, and caramelized onions, served with Yukon waffle fries.

—The Hottie: A favorite of the staff, this spicy burger is a patty complete with breaded stuffed jalapeños, pepper jack and ghost pepper aioli—and I know about those ghost peppers.

—Rockit punch: I was initially a little leery of this concoction, which one bartender said was like "Hi-C with alcohol." However, I absolutely loved this drink (served in a mason jar) that contains three flavors of Bacardi.

See www.rockitbarandgrill.com .


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