Back in May we told you about the happy convergence of two of Toronto’s favourite fried things that was about to take place in Leslieville in the form of Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken. Well, the deed is done and Leslievillians are lining up. Maybe not quite Sunday-brunch-out-the-door-onto-the-sidewalk lining up, but a near-bewildered Devin Connell (Delica Kitchen) tells us she’s been running out of doughnuts by 3 p.m. and chicken by 6—and they’re open until 7 (they’re working on this). But since her chicken isn’t a freezer-to-fryer kind of thing (it goes through a 24-hour process of brining, battering and double frying), there can be a bit of a lag in replenishing exhausted stores. Connell is truly blown away by the response. “We’ve been selling out—doing almost 300 covers a day—from the moment we opened.”
Connell explains that it’s the vital double-frying step that gives the naturally raised, free-run birds their fearsome crunch (snack size, $8; half-chicken, $13; whole chicken, $21). Don’t expect some KFC taste-alike, though—Connell based her recipe more on Korean fried chicken than on the dirty bird of the American South. Of course there are all the regular sides you’d expect ($4–14): slaw, corn bread and a sharp and slightly spicy mac-and-cheese topped with little bits of crispy chicken skin, all of which can be washed down with a house-made frozen hot chocolate ($3.25). As for the doughnuts ($2.75 each), there are seven flavours available every day out of a roster of whatever Connell and her chef, Graham Bower (Pangaea, Globe, Delica) can imagine: mango yuzu, blueberry balsamic, raspberry rose. If the colours seem a tad muted, it’s because the kitchen doesn’t use any artificial colourings or flavourings, only fresh, natural fruit purées. These are cake doughnuts, not the yeasty kind most people are familiar with, with a more crumbly texture than your average Tim Hortons product. To make these greaseless donuts, Connell splashed out on a Donut Robot shipped up from the States. “It was a major investment, but it’s worth it for perfect, consistent doughnuts.”
The tiny takeout space is breezy and bright in Tiffany blue, white, chrome and glass. Connell’s aunt, Hope Thomson, pulled the look together with one-of-a-kind finds, like two vintage pendant lamps, a tall mirror and an antique bench outside. The cheery staff are decked out in crisp, white, 1950s-style diner gear, soda jerk hat and all. On the wall beside the takeout window is a display case—à la jewellery stores—showcasing one of each of the day’s doughnuts.