Your New Year's Resolution Should Be to Eat More Bonuts
At first glance, Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls looks like just another one of those new fast-casual restaurant concepts, popping up all over—bright lighting, white walls, cool yellow chairs, mini succulents artfully scattered about, Capital Cities blaring from the speakers, and a line of people up at the counter, consulting an unfamiliar menu.
This one's a little different though. Occupying the front of a Copeland's of New Orleans location in suburban Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Batch 13 absolutely does bear more than a passing resemblance to all of the other hip-looking breakfast biscuit joints that are becoming a thing in cities throughout the South, except for one very important way in which it is entirely different.
Tucked in there with the upscaled fried-chicken-on-a-biscuit sandwiches, and those simmering pots of house sausage gravy, you have the bonut. You have a lot of bonuts, actually. Don't worry, you couldn't miss them if you tried—a visitor to Batch 13 can't really move for advertising of the thing; they're pretty much first up on the menu, and the restaurant has even had "Home of the Bonut" printed on their coffee cups.
What's a bonut? That's easy—it's a doughnut made with biscuit dough. At Batch 13, a new idea that Copeland's, a New Orleans-based sit-down restaurant chain cooked up in a play for more casual business, the bonuts echo that famous Louisiana treat, the beignet. Here, you can get your bonuts either cut into triangles and served up plain-ish (at two for $1.50, they're a steal) or served in the rectangular shape better associated with a beignet, filled with your choice of sweet stuff. The Apple Cinnamon, for example, filled with an apple raisin compote and served warm with a Madeira and vanilla glaze, are perfection, and they're far more elegant than they need to be for $2.50.
They are very proud indeed of their bonuts here, but Batch 13 calling itself the Home of The Bonut is perhaps a little ambitious—biscuit donuts are hardly a new invention, after all. The internet is littered with posts laying out the One Amazing Donut Hack You Probably Never Thought To Try, except that you probably did, each retelling the ancient truth about how you can make a pretty okay donut with a tube of supermarket biscuit dough and a couple of inches of hot oil in a frying pan. (It's true, yes, though it should be noted that the shelf life of these quick-fix numbers can be brutally short—if you're looking to go the homemade route, Alton Brown has a great how-to video, using his much better biscuit dough recipe.)
Not that you need to make them at home, if you don't want to—the bonut has been a staple at a handful of restaurants for some time now. There's Biscuit Head in Asheville, which opts to go the hole route; they've even put them in their recent cookbook, that's how popular they've been, though the idea of a cinnamon sugar dusting, a powdered sugar shower and a lemon curd for dipping might be a little excessive for some. In New York, Root & Bone, an upscale brunch spot, has been spotted serving bonuts up as a special, in a variety of flavors, at one point describing them as "a cronut that doesn't think it's better than you," which is an entirely true fact.
Simple as the bonut may be, when treated with extreme care, something as humble as a blob of biscuit dough plopped into a hot fryer can be elevated right up there along with the most elegant stuff in any patisserie window. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a reach, but if you've ever braved the lines at Biscuit Love in Nashville, where they're serving the best readily available rendition of the bonut right now, you'll probably agree, at least to a point.
As at Biscuit Head, here at Biscuit Love they are served up as donut holes, too, this time dusted only in simple sugar, which allows the exceptional taste of the biscuit itself to shine through. They've also managed to avoid the common trap of oversaturation; the crispy outside gives away the fact that they've been fried, but there's almost zero residual oil—a rather incredible thing.
Order a batch to stay, and they'll come floating on a sea of blueberry compote, topped off with dots of delicious lemon mascarpone cream. Order them to go, and you'll still get everything, but it'll all come neatly packaged up, allowing you to regulate the toppings. (This is preferable.) Don't worry if you can't eat the whole batch at once—so well made are these bonuts, they'll taste great hours later, too. You'll pay a fairly steep price—$7 for the batch of five—but it's hard to picture a scenario in which any donut lover might regret having done so.
TIME TO EAT THE BONUTS
Biscuit Love Nashville
Sarah and Karl Worley's popular food truck, which first appeared on the streets of Music City back in 2012, has gone brick and mortar, and the rest is breakfast history. Two locations now operate the city, with another coming soon to suburban Franklin's historic downtown.
Batch 13 Baton Rouge
This casual spin-off from the New Orleans-based Copeland's restaurant chain hands-down wins the award for best-value, eat-them-everyday bonut. Here's a fun bit of Louisiana trivia: Copeland's was founded by the late, great Al Copeland, the serial entrepreneur who first introduced the world to Popeyes chicken.
Biscuit Head The Carolinas
This homey Asheville one-off has gone wide, or at least wider—they've now got two locations in town, a third coming soon, and a fourth location in Greenville, South Carolina.