With the success of Delica, owner Devin Connell was getting painted into a corner. Trying to keep a popular restaurant stocked with all home made foods in a tiny kitchen is a daunting task. So, much like Holly Hill Inn did in Kentucky with Wallace Station she set her eyes on a remote kitchen to do some off site baking. A little storefront with a large kitchen was found and in June of 2012 Devin threw open the doors of Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken.
Named after her grandmother this boutique place in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood supports the big restaurant from it’s kitchen as well as offers up some delicious “to go” fare for the locals.
Paulette herself is said to have loved to cook and it sure seems it’s in the family genes. Her daughter, Linda Haynes, along with her husband, Martin Connell, founded the popular ACE Bakery in 1993. Now servicing over 300 restaurants and stores and expanding to the US South East. Then of course it was grand daughter Devin’s turn in the restaurant game. The mother and daughter also penned the cook book Two Takes.
On the outside Paulette’s powder blue paint job has it stick out like a sore thumb.
Inside the place is not much more than an order window and a lobby. You go in, you order, you wait on one of the handful of stools by the front window. Employees are decked out in 50’s diner style attire, are very friendly and eager to serve. The menu on one side and the donut line up on the other side frame the order window. Bright, clean and functional.
So how was everything you may ask?? Well good. Maybe even very good but sadly, I think could be even better. I should point out that I was there just as the first batches of chicken were coming out of the oil. So they were as perfect as they could be.
First off, we’ll start with the donuts. Made in house (by a robot) with all natural ingredients these cake donuts are tender yet hearty. All come with the same base dough but have different frostings and condiments. There are 7 daily options that change and/or rotate. I sampled 6 offerings and all were good but unfortunately none blew me away. Starting top left and heading clockwise.
Raspberry Rose w/ Graham Crackers: Not bad. The tartness of the raspberry nicely offset the sweetness in the icing.
Cinnamon Latte: Nice cinnamon flavour with a hint of espresso. Good for the “Not so sweet” crowd I suspect. Great I imagine, with coffee.
Mojito: The only flavour I could really pick up here was lime. That said, it was nice and one of the better specimens. Mrs. Sippi’s favourite.
Vanilla Bean Nutmeg: Probably my least favourite. I got nothing other than “Old Fashioned Sugar Donut" from it. No vanilla flavour which I love.
Dark Chocolate Pretzel: If I’d picked the pretzel off I’d have loved this. Chocolate and pretzel as a combo isn’t a favourite of mine.
Rootbeer Float: Definitely my favourite. A nice mild rootbeer flavour with some creaminess to it.
The fried chicken seems to be either very divisive or they’ve been watching the internet and people’s comments. I’ve read people saying the batter is so hard they were worried they’d break a tooth. Either their hyperbole is a million times worse than mine or the fine folks at Paulette’s have it dialed in now. Also, this is not traditional southern fried chicken. It's roots are more in Korea than in Kentucky. The meat was tasty and juicy (Although not overly) and the batter is a tempura that is as crispy as it could possibly be. I thoroughly enjoyed the crispiness and really wish that right out of the oil they’d hit it with some S & P. Served straight up like that I think it would be fabulous. The philosophy seems to be that the chicken comes "plain" and you customize it with a variety of sauces or seasoned salts. A very interesting concept that perhaps just needs some time to iron out all the wrinkles.
I tired one sauce and one salt.
Hot Sauce: This sauce wasn’t overly hot but did have a nice flavour. It's seems to be meant as a dipping sauce. As such it was too thick and ended up over powering the chicken.
Garam Masala Salt: This was a much better match. If you lightly seasoned your bird with it, it provided some balanced flavour and seasoning. While Indian flavours aren't associated with fried chicken, I thought it worked really well.
So all in all I liked the chicken but think they’d have a real winner on their hands with a few tweaks here or there.
The big home run for me was the Mac & Cheese. The use of “Scoobi Do” (Cavatappi) is a great choice. In particular the textured outside really helps hold on to sauces. The pasta was also an absolutely perfect al dente. Add to that a nice, smooth cheese sauce and top it all off with crispy bits of tempura batter for crunch it’s some of the best Mac & Cheese I’ve had in the city.
So there you have it folks, one of the newest additions to the burgeoning Leslieville food scene.
You can find Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken at 913 Queen St. E. in Toronto, Ontario.
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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
Well that’s all for now folks. We’ll see you next time in the food court.