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General American Donut Co. Rises to the Occasion
The city’s first craft-doughnut joint is the (calorie) bomb.
We thought we were over the craft-everything movement, but General American Donut Co. (827 S. East St., 317-964-0744) snapped us out of our jaded funk as the city’s first emporium dedicated to the trend. We were hardly alone—the downtown joint ran out all 15 housemade varieties before noon Saturday.
Red cafeteria trays display the options, priced at $2.50 or $3 (in addition to unconventional flavors, a hallmark of a craft doughnut is dough that’s not too greasy; General American came up with its own mix of flours). Maple bourbon bacon, salted caramel, a Cronut take, a glazed yeast, a yeast with sprinkles, coconut, cinnamon cake—no surprises there. But the yeast was almost bread-like, and the French Toast special should have been called Pancake for its moist interior and perfect crumb. The black-raspberry Key lime, oozing with tart filling, and the coffee-and-cream, featuring a java-spiked chocolate frosting and custardy center, seem particularly inspired. “It so creamy,” said one customer of the latter. “You need this in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.” General American serves only Stumptown coffee, a hip Portland, Ore., label. A bracing cold brew comes in Red Stripe–like bottles.
More surprising than the menu is the atmosphere in the Fletcher Place building across from Lilly. Most recently a print shop, the whitewashed space is outfitted with a hodgepodge of kitchen furniture, tulip tables, '60s loveseats, and a kids’ art desk with mini versions of classic midcentury-modern chairs. A little girl in a tutu zipped her scooter around the concrete floor, and groups lingered, trying each other’s doughnuts and watching old WB cartoons projected onto the wall. Co-owner Adam Perry often plays a movie on weekdays and plans to switch up the family-family programming on the weekends. He says the decor is a work in progress, but we hope he doesn't change a thing.
Perry and his wife, Kari Nickander, swapped their two food trucks, Taco Lassi and Pho Mi, for a permanent space and deep fryers. While they aren’t trying to shock anyone with weird flavors (“Nothing super-funky, like stuff with lavender—stuff that doesn’t sound good to us,” Perry says) or giving up their old ways completely (General American goes mobile at Gen Con this week), they are planning to push some boundaries soon with savory Asian- and Mexican-inspired varieties, a hot dog in a doughnut bun, and Sun King versions. Wee Mac and Osiris donuts will hit the cafeteria trays in a couple of weeks; sometimes the beer will be mixed into the dough, but Perry has already experimented with other ways to incorporate the flavors, like sprinkling the top with candied malt. We stand corrected—the craft movement has our attention again.