The cupcake has had its time in the spotlight. This is the year of the doughnut. Actually, the doughnut deserves its own decade, and the first step is to rebel against the misguided notion that doughnuts are breakfast food. The kitchen staff at Queenie's must agree on both points, because they're now serving fresh, gourmet doughnuts out of the Austin Street side-door late on Friday and Saturday nights. And these are no ordinary doughnuts — they're just the decadent richness you'd expect from a restaurant that used to serve chicken-fried lobster (RIP). These are the kind of doughnuts that motivate you to do that extra lap on the elliptical because OMG the weekend is coming, and weekend means doughnuts.
Back Dough, Denton's newest doughnut venture, could not have come at a better time, even though Little d's late-night dining options have been growing steadily in the last year. The Austin St. Truck Stop, a dedicated food truck park next to Eastside bar, is a happening place most evenings, but pickings get slim as the crowd thins and interest wanes. The first 24-hour diner in the downtown area didn't open until late last year, so each new late-night dining option is a welcome addition to this growing college town.
We stopped by last week for the low-down from dough-town. After dinner service ends on Friday and Saturday evenings, the kitchen staff at Queenie's dives straight into doughnut batter. Yeasted doughnuts are fried fresh and filled with a variety of decadent concoctions, both sweet and savory. If you missed dinner and need some protein in your system before tackling a frosting-filled treat, Back Dough has you covered.
With a menu that changes weekly depending on chef & owner Tim Love's inspiration, Back Dough diners choose from four doughnut options, usually one savory and three sweet. The strawberry cheesecake doughnut is what all other doughnuts aspire to be when they grow up — moist and slightly chewy with a tiny bit of crackle to the fried exterior. The round pastry is filled with luxurious strawberry cream cheese filling, topped with a vanilla glaze, thinly sliced strawberries and tiny, crunchy graham crackers. Be still our doughnut-shaped heart.
The chocolate mousse doughnut was no less impressive and equally as rich with a chocolate mousse filling, raspberry glaze and chocolate cookie topping.
And then there's the barbecue pulled pork doughnut topped with jalapeño-cheddar gravy and a generous helping of fried onion rings, a clever Southwest take on a common dim sum dish. We could eat two in one sitting for dinner with no regrets.
The doughnuts are amazing, but even more enjoyable is the opportunity for casual conversation with a kitchen staff that usually operates behind the scenes. Neglia, Queenie's chef de cuisine, and sous chef Corey van Hunter are often hard at work in the busy kitchen during Queenie's dinner service, but Back Dough provides a casual atmosphere for them to chat with diners while plating their creations. The past two weekends have seen a stream of regulars as well as curious passersby stopping in to chat during the brief wait for their orders.
Running a late-night doughnut shop out of the back of Denton's finest steakhouse is a brilliant move for Queenie's owner, celebrity chef Tim Love. It fulfills a niche food market we didn't even realize we needed until now. Business has been picking up significantly in the past few weeks. The Back Dough occasionally sells out before 1 a.m., so we recommend stopping by earlier in the evening if you have your heart set on one. Also, the Back Dough is cash-only, so roll up with actual dough.
The Back Dough is open Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. If you can't make it out during bar hours Friday and Saturday, Queenie's will feature fresh Back Dough doughnuts on the starters platter for their Mother's Day Brunch menu May 8.
Queenie's Steakhouse, 115 E Hickory St., Denton