Something Different, Somethin’ Sweet Donuts

Somethin' Sweet Donuts Collage

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Only a few years ago, cupcakes were all the rage in Chicago. It seemed as though new cupcake shops were opening doors monthly. They peddled cupcakes baked with Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, or Pillsburry cake mix, and heaped high with two to three inches of frosting. Now it seems as though doughnuts are going through a renaissance. In the same fashion as cupcakes, you can get your doughnut piled high enough with frosting and toppings to make the tooth fairy brim with delight.

Several months ago, while heading home from Oak Park, I had a taste for some doughnuts. I was not in the mood for Dunkin Donuts and I definitely was not craving any of the “artisanal” variety. I did a quick search on my phone and saw a listing for a doughnut bakery named Somethin’ Sweet Donuts at 5112 W. Fullerton Avenue. On the first visit, it would be cliche to say that “the rest was history” after the purchase. Having kicked myself for buying only four doughnuts would be more fitting. What doughnut bakery is open at 8:30 PM and sells doughnuts that are as fresh as any you would buy at the break of dawn when they open for business? I was addicted. And given that my teeth didn’t ache from having to work them through an inch of some excessive decorative sugar, I was in love.

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Old Fashioned, Cherry, Apple Crisp Cherry, Old Fashioned, Apple Crisp

Fast forward to the present and I have just finished washing my hands after devouring a cherry doughnut while taking a cup of tea. I have been returning to Somethin’ Sweet Doughnuts every Friday after work — a ritual now — to purchase an assortment of 4-6 doughnuts. I was shocked at the cost the first time I had bought a dozen because the cash register showed a total considerably less than what I’ve paid when I’ve bought the same quantity from any of the popular doughnuteries. (There’s a new word for you.) I get the fascination with the brand name bake shops and during my youth when sugar was supreme in my diet, I could consume a doughnut heaped high with 3-4 ingredients. I can’t do that now. I prefer to taste the actual doughnut, not just the toppings.

I was in my twenties the last time I had a doughnut that didn’t make my gums throb. We’ll leave it at that was a rather long time ago. Somethin’ Sweet Donuts has won my heart (Best Customer Service) and my stomach (Best Doughnuts).

Somethin’ Sweet Donuts on Urbanspoon

Tre Kronor, Three Crowns

Tre Kronor

Brie and ApplesWhat do you do when you find that your food is cold by the time you get ready to eat it? Well, one suggestion would be to ask to have it reheated. The other suggestion would be to stop joking and laughing with your dinner partners so that you can eat the food while it’s hot. My friend and I chose a Swedish restaurant on Chicago’s North Side at 3258 West Foster Avenue. It was’t just us this time. Two of my old co-workers joined us and in addition to outstanding food, we had laughter and comedy for the three hours we were there. People with high technical aptitude are stereotypically known for being boring, but not the four of us on this evening. Not only were we not boring, but we were well fed.

AppetizersBecause the weather was beautiful, we decided to sit outside and enjoy the great view and temperatures. We started off with complementary bread and crackers that we gobbled up while making fun of work — well our past jobs for two of us who fled a rather blah place of employment. As complementary food is great for whetting the appetite only, we added to the appetizer list by ordering sill tallrik and soft brie with slices of green apple. The sill tallrik were two types of pickled herring, which seems to be a favourite delicacy in Western Europe. I could understand why because the pickled herring was delicious. We asked for more complementary bread so that we could spread the soft brie on it. We had already determined that it was all uphill from this point.

Entrée, Part 1The entrées were so good that they had that effect that I usually experience when I’m eating lip-smacking good food. I wanted to dance and I’m not a dancer. We had norsk lax which was Norwegian salmon broiled with chive beurre blanc, served with au gratin potatoes and parsley. Let me just say that the au gratin potatoes did not come out of a Betty Crocker box. The things were ridiculously good. Oh, that’s not all. We had flaskfile. This was pork tenderloin with savoury applesauce and braised red cabbage served up with rice pilaf and green beans. I’m not a fan of pork, but this dish was worth ordering another plate. But that’s not all. A third plate we ordered was kottbullar, Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, cucumber salad, and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were so good that they didn’t require gravy and Tre Kronor truly did a fabulous job with the Swedish meatballs. The fourth dish we ordered was kycklingfilè. This was a chicken breast, ham, and djarlesberg cheese with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was yet another unnecessarily good dish to the point of us thinking how much we appreciate good food. I guess that goes without saying.

Entrée, Part 2Even though we had survived stuffing ourselves with the appetizing appetizers and the mouth watering entrées, we had enough room left for dessert. We were dangerous also. We ordered four dessert. “Oh my God!” you say as you press your hand to your chest in shock. We had a custard with a caramelized topping, a chocolate mousse that no one should eat in public, a lemon tart that swear was finally done right by someone, and blueberry soup that was surprisingly tasty although different.

Entrée, Part 3Tre Kronor apparently was once an actual house that the owners converted into a restaurant. After dinner, I went to wash my hands and the bathroom was upstairs. Notice I said bathroom as opposed to washroom. You can let a bath, soak in the tub, and relax after a heavy meal like what we had. I’m sure other customers who are full of drink and in need of using the loo would not be pleased if someone were basking in a bubble bath with a glass of wine. Talk about making customers feel at home.

Entrée, Part 4Here is the shameless plug. For all of the eating, and I will remind you again that everything was outstanding, the price was the biggest shock. We didn’t hear the cha-ching sound and laughter from the kitchen. The next time we go, we’ll have to go with sullen and sombre spirits so that we’re not laughing so much. The food at Tre Kronor is tasty, but not spicy such that those with mild palates would have fits. We enjoyed the food, which is rhetorical, and it goes without saying that will shall return — at least ten more times this year.

Flight of Desserts

Tre Kronor on Urbanspoon

Icosium Kafe, All About Algeria

Icosium Kafe

Sweet Potato Puree

Sweet Potato Puree

When I was in undergraduate school and in graduate school, I always hung out with the foreigners, much to the chagrin of many in my class. I got invitations to dinner and believe me when I say that my classmates knew how to get down with the get-down in the kitchen. I got to travel to the Caribbean, to Africa, to India, and to the Middle East when they went home, many thanks to their invitations. I should clarify that being of Caribbean and African stock, my fellow Caribbean and African classmates were not foreign to me the way the Indians, Arabs, Iranians, Iraqis, and other Middle Eastern were. And while I did my share of travelling to Africa with my fellow classmates, I never got a chance to go to Algeria. Well, I got a chance to compensate for that loss with a wonderful visit to an Algerian restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

Jamming with Jam

Jamming with Jam

For some Algerian delicacies, we went to Icosium Kafe at 5200 N. Clark Street in the midst of usual Friday evening chaos on the block where everything is constantly in motion and parking is at a premium. Tucked away in what looks like a little corner, Icosium Kafe is a small restaurant and coffee-house that specializes in crepes. Oh happy day. Seven of us met to partake of the menu of crepes, to interject our usual brand of humour, and to see if it was possible to walk a straight line after so much belly stuffing. And par for the course, we accomplished to do all that. As mentioned, Icosium Kafe is small and intimate, but it is also loaded with atmosphere. We seven — ranging from Jewish, to Mennonite, to Serbian, to Colombian, to Polish, to Caribbean — felt right at home squeezed into our little spot and up to our usual antics.

Crepe Aziz

Crepe Aziz

To get things started, we began with a round of rooibus tea, which is a red tea based out of South Africa around Western Cape. Goes to show that there is apparently a lot of love in Africa such that Northern Africans can appreciate the sweet, nutty taste of rooibus tea that they would include it on their menus. It was a nice touch, if I may say so. We also had cups of sweet potato purée soup. If I had disposable income, I’d be on an airplane to Algeria, typing this journal up from an altitude of 35,000 feet, so that I could indulge in eating that soup. If I had a few slices of pumpkin bread to go along with it, I would have been in heaven. It was the kind of soup that was so delicious that if someone were to serve it up to you, you’d probably make all sorts of promises that you’d eventually break without compunction. Wait a minute. I don’t have to go to Algeria for more of the soup. I can simply go back to Icosium Kafe. Cue sad trombone.

When it came down to the main meal, we placed our fair share orders of savoury crepes that we could all share family style. There was no need in being individualistic with such good food and because we operate in the mode of being a community, sharing is what it’s all about. We ended up feasting on the following:

  • Cheka Chouka Crepe — crepe filled with goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, fresh Roma tomatoes, pine nuts, roasted garlic, and baby spinach
  • Crepe De Roma — crepe filled with capers, baby mozzarella cheese, fresh roma tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, fresh basil, baby spinach, and lamb sausage
  • Crepe De Paris — crepe filled with green applies, escargot, roasted garlic, and brie
  • Chicago Crepe — crepe filled with avocados, Muenster cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, fresh cilantro, scallions, organic mixed greens, and chicken
  • Carthage Crepe — crepe filled with scallions, feta cheese, fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and organic mixed greens
  • Greek Crepe — crepe filled with cured olives, feta cheese, fresh Roma tomatoes, toasted almonds, fresh cilantro, roasted garlic, baby spinach, and salmon
Chicago Crepe

Chicago Crepe

If I had to give a definition of satisfaction, getting our fill of the crepes would be it. Some may differ, but I would have to recommend that they go to Icosium Kafe and discover the true meaning of the word. After a moment of letting the food go down, cracking up on work, trying to get one of the foodies to become a stand-up comedian, and breaking down the real meaning of enjoying ice cream, we were ready for dessert.

The desserts were, of course, stuffed crepes with all sorts of yummy goodies for the tummies. And because you’re hankering to know what all we had, I shall indulge you with a description of the greatness that we ate with all the rapture of individuals taking full advantage of life.

  • Bananas and Nutella — crepe filled with bananas and melted nutella, which is a hazelnut paste
  • Crepe Aziz — crepe filled with fresh strawberries, kiwi, and nutella
  • Crepe D’Amour — crepe stuffed full of fresh raspberries with dark chocolate
  • Crepe Buena — crepe with fresh mango, ginger chutney, sunflower seeds, and raisins
  • Crepe De Limone — crepe with fresh lemon juice, white sugar, and lemon zest
  • Jamming with Jam Crepes — crepe filled with fresh raspberry, apricot, strawberry, orange marmalade, and lingonberry
Crepe D'Amour

Crepe D’Amour

Along with the dessert crepes, we had ice cream. Hmmmm. Naughty-naughty. Our crepes came with a dollop of chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, green tea sherbet, strawberry, and rainbow. Well, I can say that I appreciate ice cream, especially after having it served up with such appetizing crepes. And we had this production line activity going, taking a bite of a crepe and passing the plate clockwise to the next person. All while we were doing this, we kept singing

Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
It a gonna burn, give me music make me jump and prance
It a go done, give me the music make me rock in the dance

You know the food has to be good when you’re singing at the dining table.

Bananas and Nutella

Bananas and Nutella

And so our success continues. Icosium Kafe was definitely a gem of a restaurant and the food was absolutely outstanding. If I had to change anything, it would be into a pair of pants with an elastic waistband. The food isn’t necessarily pricey, but if you eat the way we foodies eat, it may bring about a wince when the bill comes. Yet again, this is one of those restaurants where you go with a group of friends for the real experience. While it may be small and intimate, it’s still not intimate where you can sit in the corner licking your date’s fingers. If you find yourself doing that, may I recommend ice cream until you get home?

Icosium Kafé on Urbanspoon

 Icosium Kafe LTD on Foodio54