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28 Catt. 2: In re Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

2014 February 12

Opinion of JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

A new breakfast option has come to my neighborhood. This was welcomed news to me, as I don’t live in a particularly exciting neighborhood. While other Justices have settled in hip neighborhoods—Chief Justice Jeremy, for example, calls Adams Morgan home and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court lives off of U Street—I chose Rosslyn in Northern Virginia. The first metro stop outside of the District, Rosslyn is conveniently situated to get to great eateries in D.C. and Virginia. But Rosslyn itself isn’t filled with many gastronomic gems—whether mobile or brick-and-mortar—at present. (By my count, there may just be two: El Chilango and Pho 75.)

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

So I was pleased to see a food truck called Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken lined up on N. Lynn Street one recent morning. A note upfront: Despite the name, the food truck does not currently serve fried chicken. For that, you have to go to Astro’s brick-and-mortar shop in D.C. near Metro Center. The truck, which has been making regular visits to Rosslyn, Clarendon, and Ballston, serves up the same doughnut flavors that are available in the shop that day. On the morning I visited, there were eight offerings. I chose to try crème brûlée (an “everyday” flavor on Astro’s menu) and Nutella (a “monthly” flavor). This opinion reviews the crème brûlée. I will review the Nutella doughnut in a companion case, In re Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, 28 Catt. 3 (2014).

Astro’s crème brûlée flavor has been very well received by doughnut eaters in the area. Last summer, it was crowned the winner of the Washington Post Food Section’s Dozen Week of Doughnuts competition. It was also named one of the fifty must-try dishes by the Washington City Paper. It has wowed customers and critics alike. Will it do the same for a Cart Justice?

Street Food Test

Before I can review the crème brûlée doughnut, I must address whether the doughnut is true street food and is therefore entitled to the presumption of affirmance by this court. See In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011) (defining street food); In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012) (discussing burden of proof). The crème brûlée doughnut is not street food. While doughnuts from another food truck have satisfied this court’s test for street food, those doughnuts were freshly made in front of the customer. See In re Mama’s Donut Bites, 18 Catt. 1 (2013). The doughnut in this case, on the other hand, is very similar to the dish that first inspired our street food test. That is, Astro’s doughnuts are made at their shop, loaded on to the food truck, and then bagged and handed to customers—sometimes several hours after they were first made. However, for the reasons below, Astro’s crème brûlée doughnut needs no presumption and excels on its own.

Crème Brûlée & Nutella Doughnuts

Crème Brûlée & Nutella Doughnuts

Crème Brûlée Doughnut ($2.85)

Astro’s crème brûlée doughnut is a vanilla glazed doughnut with an exterior coat of caramelized sugar and a vanilla custard filling. It is, of course, inspired by the classic French dessert. As a dessert-inspired doughnut, it is, as one might expect, very sweet. It is probably too sweet for those who dislike sugary treats in their stomachs first thing in the morning. Luckily, I do not have that problem. (I often eat cake, cookies, and pie for breakfast because, well, why wait till later?)

I must confess that crème brûlée does not top my wish list of desserts. I rarely select it from restaurant menus. But after catching a glimpse of the doughnut in Astro’s display case, I couldn’t resist. The main visual lure for me—the hard shell of caramelized sugar—lived up to my expectations. No, it beat my expectations.

The crème brûlée doughnut was texturally exquisite. The teeth first met a crunchy layer of scorched sugar, then bit through the soft center, and ended in a pool of cool, creamy, thick vanilla custard. The variety of textures made for one memorable bite.

If I had to nitpick at something, it would be the timidity of the vanilla flavoring in the custard. The hint of vanilla was detectable, but without a more aggressive touch, it bordered on bland. But this didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of Astro’s otherwise outstanding creation.

For its creativity and near-perfect execution, Astro’s crème brûlée doughnut is

AFFIRMED. It is so ordered.


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