This week, he visited two new spots in the city where creative pastry chefs are leading the way.
Chef Stephanie Izard and her staff had a lot of great ideas that didn't have an outlet, so they converted part of the Little Goat Diner in the West Loop into Sugargoat, an escapist funhouse of flavors and creative combinations.
Sure, you can still find cookies, like chocolate chip and oatmeal - albeit with pickled raisins - plus familiar chocolate crinkles. But if you look closer, you can find Cheez-It cupcakes topped with chocolate peanut butter covered Cheez-Its and cheddar caramel whipped cream. Avocado toast versions have sourdough cakes with tomato caramel, crowned with avocado buttercream and sourdough crackers.
"This is a pie that tastes like you took a French fry and dipped it into a Frosty. Just a sort of crave-able flavor combination. So the crust itself is crunchy potatoes that are mixed up with a cookie crumble, in the middle is a chocolate malt, then on top is potato sticks that are tossed in chocolate. It's crunchy, it's salty, it's sweet," she said.
About a mile west, there's new life in the small bakery case positioned as you walk into the Metric Coffee Roaster on West Fulton. The colorful assortment of yeast and cake doughnuts, plus the fun pastries, is a result of a collaboration between Erika Chan and Sieger Bayer. Both are alums of The Publican who are now owners of Brite Donuts & Baked Goods.
"For us, kind of offering something that mimics the quality they sell with Metric Coffees and then us being able to work with the farmers and all of the vendors and the good people we want to work with," said Bayer.
There are Fruit Loop donuts with a citrus glaze, pumpkin Thai tea croissants and vegan earl grey morning buns.
"Classic apple fritter but we do kind of a twist. We just changed it up to glazing it with this really cool autumn harvest cranapple tea that we get from Rare Tea Cellars, so it's like the icing that goes on top," said Bayer. "A sweet potato yeasted donut. It's got this cool, graham crackery crust on the bottom. We've topped it with a spiced sweet potato puree and some crunchy sweet potato fries that we toss with a little barbecue sauce. So it's kind of a mix of sweet and savory."
Chan describes their pumpkin hazelnut sage donut, which calls for two types of local squash.
"It's topped with a brown butter glaze, toasted hazelnuts, little pieces of homemade amaretti cookies and candied sage," she said.
A ham and cheese croissant also gets a little extra love.
"Erika decided to take all these really nice tomatoes from Klug Farm; cook 'em down and add a tomato jam to it, so it's another deep, sweet flavor added to it and gives it a little bit of a twist," said Bayer. "Everything that's been happening, and everyone wants that little sense of comfort, this is the perfect time; make good things for good people."
You can order at Brite Donuts 24 hours in advance if you want to get them in orders of six or 12, but if you want to just walk in to get a couple yourself, Metric Coffee is open seven days a week. To order online you go to www.enjoybrite.com.
Keep in mind, you can expect all of those flavors to change frequently since both bakeries work with local farms.
820 W. Randolph St.
Brite Donuts & Baked Goods
Available at Metric Coffee, 2021 W. Fulton St.