Two American icons will get double billing downtown with the January arrival of a carry-out called Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, a salute to “two of my favorite foods,” says co-owner Elliot Spaisman. The local entrepreneur’s business partner is his friend since childhood, professional hockey player Jeff Halpern of the New York Rangers.
A 10-year veteran of Sutton Place Gourmet in Bethesda, Spaisman declined to share the exact location of the future outpost, which he hopes to open by the Inauguration, but he hints that it’s a block from Metro Center. Spaisman is more forthcoming about the identity of his fry cook: Jason Gehring, the former pastry chef at the Italian-themed Fiola in Penn Quarter.
Gehring will be making doughnuts in about a dozen flavors, including creme brulee, passion fruit, maple-bacon and carrot cake. His fried chicken will be served three ways: with buttermilk, a sriracha glaze or a rub of dry spices. A daily-changing side dish will round out Astro’s brief menu.
The food will be previewed at yet-to-be-announced pop-up tastings and catered events.
The owners’ affection for doughnuts goes back to when both played hockey in school and ended practice with boxes from Montgomery Donuts, says Spaisman. Gehring, who grew up on the Eastern Shore, developed a fondness for the fried chicken made by both his mother and grandmother.
Fortunately, the pastry chef has moved beyond his youthful stabs at making “doughnuts” at home. Back then, he says, the recipe involved Pillsbury biscuit dough, hot oil and cinnamon and sugar.