It all started with coffee, the best love of Yellow Light owner Nico Dimitrijevic. He roasts his own, medium, in a small building that was once intended to be a Krispy Krunchy Chicken outpost. With frying equipment already on hand, he thought, why reinvent the wheel?
Coffee and donuts, a natural one.
So he started to experiment. He tried some recipes at home. He stenciled on the side of the building a giant rooster, a symbol of elevation and shine, holding a donut ready to peck. Now his team makes up to 1,500 cake fritters from scratch on a weekend day, three dozen per fry, five minutes bubbling in soybean oil. Workers fill your order blazingly fast. Do not hesitate to stop on the way to work.
On a recent Sunday morning there was a line of cars moving quickly at 9:30 am. Because is there anything more delicious than a donut, with its right proportions of sugar and fat?
The names of the Yellow Light donuts correspond exactly to their tastes. It’s important: what you order is what you get. Many donuts probably have vanilla in the recipe, but here the vanilla bean donut, with a pleasantly bumpy exterior, really does have a warmer vanilla flavor. Brown Butter Plantain – my favorite and Dimitrijevic’s – is buttery and maybe less sweet, more umami … More Dimitrijevic says he has an agreement with Lester Gouvia, owner of Norma G’s, the Trinidadian place down the street, to swap coffee for plantains.
The Cinnamon Sugar Donut is pretty straightforward, as it’s supposed to be, but it tastes enough of a traditional fried donut to satisfy him. The plain is … plain.
The weeklong special, Samoa, was designed after the Girl Scout cookie, with coconut, salted caramel frosting and a drizzle of chocolate. Specials require a bit of extra tinkering and cost an additional 50 cents. A sour cream, where the dough itself is chocolate, is in the opinion of the boss the best it makes, and often appears with different icings.
Lime, I have to say, looks more like the lime version of Kool-Aid; yes there is some resemblance to green citrus, but would you really want citrus in a donut? Likewise, the cherry-almond reminds us of the taste of these two flavors in prepared foods, rather than in nature.
It’s not Krispy Kreme’s aerial sweets, which are yeast donuts. They’re stronger, but not heavy enough to immediately sink to the bottom of your stomach.
I’m not complaining that none of Yellow Light’s donuts are filled with icky cream. The cream in a donut is like marshmallows on sweet potatoes – unnecessary and a little cloying. (Well, maybe Paczki’s day.) I’m not even a frosting fan. Let the real me of donuts shine. They are, obviously, already sweet and don’t need any additional doodling.
Yellow Light customers disagree; their favorites are frosted chocolate, vanilla and “birthday cake”.
I liked all of the Yellow Light breakfast square cookies, which come from Rising Stars Bakery in Warren. They are not really big but they are big, certainly enough for a meal. They’re flaky and have that great cookie dust that should come with the house.
By far the bestseller, the Maple Glazed Chicken Biscuit has a great crispy crust on the bird, and plenty of it; the maple flavor eclipses the rest. The hot chicken with pickles is, again, exactly as advertised: the pickles dominate and there is a gratifying hot spice carry over. Chicken sausage, from the Detroit Sausage Co., tastes like chicken; it is combined with a little cheddar cheese and a slice of scrambled eggs. Don’t worry about the square evenness of the eggs; they are not from Sysco but homemade with sour cream and butter, in silicone molds.
The most expensive cookie, egg soybeans, has a good garlic, herb, and mayonnaise sauce, which is also homemade.
Dimitrijevic says his coffee sales can be hampered by the fact that most people don’t know he is roasting on the spot. If you look inside you can see the 5 kilo roaster. Although he himself is a “1% coffee elitist”, he seeks common ground for his customers. You can get bags of light, medium, dark, or decaffeinated coffee, made from 50 to 50 blends of different bean origins.
Or get a coffee slush, made with sweetened condensed milk in a slush machine.
I recommend that you take your order eight blocks from AB Ford Park, which overlooks both the Detroit River and a green and green canal. Drive south on Lakewood, which is just one block from Yellow Light. Sit at a picnic table to contemplate the glories of our civilization, from the digging of canals (think about it) to the invention of the cookie and donut. As long as these jubilations remain with us, all is not lost.
Dimitrijevic reminds us: âEverything is an indulgence. None of this is light.
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