One of the joys of the city of Chicago is that there’s always something new to find. I love to take detours on my way to work, late arrivals be darned, and I’ve found some great places. After my souring experience trying some of Dunkin’ Donuts’ tea selections, I was looking for some other places to combine a love of tea and love of sweets during that precious half hour I have between arriving in Chicago on the commuter train and my arrival at the office.
At the behest of a family member, I decided to meander once again outside my normal route to work and check out The Doughnut Vault, one of the many doughnut shops scattered throughout downtown Chicago. I could give you my thoughts about all of the shops I’ve encountered, but that’s for another blog. This particular Doughnut Vault is hidden away inside a building across from one of the major train stations, and I almost missed it the first time I walked past.
My fiance and I went into the Vault for, what else, a doughnut, and I discovered that not only do they sell doughnuts (and very good ones, I might add) and specialty coffee drinks, but also teas curated by Rare Tea Cellars, a tea wholesaler known locally as a place to find some interesting flavors. They are a proud supplier of the teas at suburban favorite Madame Zuzu’s Tea House, as well as many hotels and restaurants in the city. Their specialties are rare and unique teas, so I was surprised to find some of them served alongside gourmet doughnuts.
Maybe I was unimpressed by DD’s tea selections because they didn’t pair well with their namesake pastry, although I’m doubtful. The pistachio doughnut I devoured in the vault was wonderful with the lightly-roasted oolong I had with it. I will agree with many that coffee is the superior doughnut co-star, but this was excellent. A big ol’ bag of oolong in a cup of hot water, and I am a happy man.
I do wish that better methods of making tea in cafes was prevalent, as I received a cup of hot water with a bag of leaves, but that’s just the way it is. I was fortunate enough that I wasn’t in a huge hurry, or I’d resort to my usual option of carrying around a second, empty paper cup to stash the tea bag before the tea got too bitter. But having a higher quality leaf sold in a place I wouldn’t normally expect to see it is a huge step in the right direction. This particular shop also serves their coffee with the grounds in the cup, so maybe it’s just their style.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to have a sweet breakfast and a tall hot cup, I highly recommend the Doughnut Vault. Just remember to get there early. When they run out of doughnuts, they close, and you’re out of luck.