Devin Connell (Delica Kitchen) was torn between two loves: a really good, artisanal doughnut and super-crunchy fried chicken. “I knew I wanted to open a place that focused on one thing, did one thing only, and did it really well, but I couldn’t decide,” she told us. “Then, one night I woke up and thought, ‘I don’t have to choose! Why not do both?’” And so, with Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken, Connell—of the Ace Bakery Connells—along with brother Luke and chef Graham Bower (Pangaea, Globe, Delica), is bringing her idea of a very happy meal to Leslieville. “We don’t shy away from what our food is: it’s not healthy food. It’s happy food. And it’s made with wholesome ingredients.”
Food is also what made Connell’s grandmother Paulette, the take-out joint’s namesake, happy. “She was from Belgium and came here after the Second World War to marry my grandfather, a Canadian soldier,” she said. “Every day we spent with her was an eat-a-thon and her philosophy was ‘more butter and butter on everything!’ She’s my inspiration for this place… and she lived to be 95.” Sure, the low-fat police will not be pleased with this shrine to deep-frying, but Connell is betting the neighbourhood won’t be able to resist the aromas of Korean-style fried chicken wafting from the kitchen’s exhaust system. Just like its Southern cousin, Korean fried chicken is served in quarters, but the corn starch and rice flour batter is much lighter and the bird is twice-fried, like a Belgian frite, making it crispier than the norm. “The coating is so crispy, it just shatters in the mouth!”
Back from a fact-finding—i.e. doughnut- and fried chicken–eating—mission in New York City’s Korean joints and cutting edge doughnut shops, the trio are deep into the recipe-testing phase of what Connell calls the “Canadian version of chicken and waffles.” So far, she’s keeping mum on the flavours they’re experimenting with for their chicken dipping sauces, flavoured salts, flavoured sugars and doughnut batters and glazes. Laments Connell, “We have doughnut shops on every corner, but no one is making really good, cake-style, artisanal doughnuts in exotic flavours.” And certainly, no one’s selling them with Korean fried chicken.
Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken, 913 Queen St. E., paulettesoriginal.com