The long lines stretching from a booth at the Saturday morning Hillcrest Farmers Market at Little Rock's Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in recent years was folks waiting to sip up the coffee and bite into the pastries at Mylo Coffee Co.
Now owners Stephanos Mylonas and his wife, Monica, have moved their business into a new brick-and-mortar location down the street at 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd. (freed up when Regi Ott and Jeremy Bragg moved River City Tea & Coffee up the street to 2913 Kavanaugh last fall). And it's about as big a hit indoors as it was out.
They've turned the space from what was primarily a retail outlet with limited seating into a thriving European-style cafe and patisserie, the coffee and pastries that used to draw crowds to the farmers market at the center of a bill of fare that now includes a range of lunch soups, salads and sandwiches. There's seating for about 40 at new gleaming plank tables (each with its own potted succulent) with sturdy aluminum patio chairs, plus a few along the front windows, out of which customers can look out at the folks walking, running and walking dogs down the Kavanaugh Boulevard promenade (and there's always an aluminum bowl of water out front for the dogs of walkers who choose to stop for a bit).
The walls are mostly unadorned brick. A mural depicting the charm of Hillcrest covers one wall of the combination heating-AC plant and unisex bathroom.
The shop is pretty much a hipster haven; at a guess, no member of the universally friendly and helpful staff appears to be older than about 25. That applies to most of the customers as well.
We mentioned that there's seating for 40, but at peak periods it may be tough to corral a table -- mostly it's one person and a laptop at a four-top, taking advantage of the free (password-protected) Wi-Fi. (In this country, folks shy away from sitting with strangers. In Europe, where folks are less concerned about invading personal space, that wouldn't be so much of an issue.)
Mylonas uses, wherever possible, locally sourced ingredients and proudly lists the providers on the company Facebook page. Flours and grains, for example, come from War Eagle Mill in Rogers; they get fresh produce, meat, and dairy from small local farms.
The extended front counter (which also extends across one side of the partially open kitchen) features first a display of sweet and savory pastries, from brownies and croissants of various descriptions to the kouign amanns, flaky, somewhat sticky Breton confections that were the farmers market's biggest hit and made Mylo Coffee Co. famous. (Yes, there is a good chance that, the later in the day you show up, they'll have run out of them, or something else you wanted. That's life.) At lunch, there's a soup and salad of the day and at least half a dozen sandwich options that remain on display through the afternoon, or at least until they're gone.
Order at the "register" (actually an iPad with a credit-card attachment). Pick up anything that's ready to eat or drink; anything that needs heating or preparation of some kind, somebody will carry to your table.
Mylo's kouign amanns are, in fact, to die for, whether you have the plain (aka Classic, $3) or one with additions -- dark chocolate ($3.50), which we tried and loved, or pear ($4), which we didn't. We've also seen bacon kouign amanns behind the sneeze guard. The layered pastry, almost filo-thin, is rich with butter, sugar (some of which collected at the bottom of ours for a chewy post-pastry candy delight) and sprinkled with crystalline sugar.
The kouign amanns aren't quite as flaky as the croissants -- we tried, with great pleasure, the plain ($3), cheese ($3.50) and the slightly otherwise configured Pain au chocolat (also $3.50). Take care, however -- flakes went everywhere. We tried to concentrate them on a plate so that, with the help of a proper utensil, they wouldn't go to waste, but quite a few ended up on our clothing, table and/or the floor.
A pastry-wrapped sausage roll ($5) was tasty; it didn't occur to us to ask if it could be heated, which, we suspect, might have made it delicious.
We stopped by late one afternoon after most of the lunch items were long gone, but we did luck into the remainder of the soup of the day, a chorizo and chickpea stew ($2.50 small, $4.50 large) with plenty of chickpeas, ground mild chorizo sausage and vegetables in a rich, slightly thin, superbly flavored broth. (Intrepid Companion, however, thought it needed a couple of dashes of extra salt.)
On a subsequent Saturday lunch visit, Mylo's had again already run out of the two available sandwiches by the time we were ready to order, or so we thought; turns out Stephanos' brother, Markos, was heating two hanger steak sandwiches ($8) on the press for himself and his brother, and graciously, the better to secure a possible regular customer, yielded one up to us.
It was a hit: The steak was nicely tender and fairly plentiful, accompanied by some red-ribbed greens and a mild herbed horseradish sauce on the house thick-sliced, coarse-grained bread (made with unbleached flour).
Other sandwich options on a recent Sunday ($7 each) that we saw, but didn't try: roasted pork with raw-milk cheddar, pesto and Dijon mustard; roasted red pepper and halloumi (a semi-hard, unripened brined cheese, Cypriot in origin, made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk) with a kalamata-olive-and-anchovy tapenade; and roasted eggplant, bacon and Gruyere.
We did try and enjoy one of Mylo's Scotch eggs ($5), a hard-boiled egg encased in a fried sausage-and-breadcrumb shell the size of, or perhaps a little larger than, a billiard ball. The sausage is fairly mild; the shell was just crunchy enough.
And we can certainly recommend, with or without the Greek yogurt dressing, the vegan, du-jour, couscous salad ($3.50 small, $6 large), a goodly portion of firm couscous tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, bits of artichoke heart, red onions and -- surprise! -- pistachios, which provided an extraordinary boost in both taste and texture.
Looking for a post-meal sweet? Try one of Mylo's generously portioned, rich brownies ($3). There's also usually a selection of cakes and other goodies. Something for our next visit: A half-dozen or so varieties of Loblolly Creamery ice cream.
Moving into a permanent structure has allowed the Mylonas family to house-roast its own beans (that's Markos' department, we're told), which they use for, among other things, the superb "pour-over" coffee ($3) -- the barrista puts grounds in a single-serve filter and pours in hot water, and the result leaches down into the cup for a knockout cup of java.
There's also a whole range of espressos and coffee drinks; Intrepid Companion agreed, in lieu of the vanilla latte she requested, a superb honey latte ($4 -- $3.75 for the latte, 25 cents for the honey, and Mylo uses an excellent Arkansas product called Sun Harvest).
Otherwise we had some difficulty with the beverage selection. Mylo doesn't serve any of the usual soft drinks -- no Coke or Pepsi products, either via a dispenser or even in bottles. They do serve Loblolly Creamery infusions and kombuchas in 12-ounce bottles (our ginger kombucha and lavender lemonade turned out to be a whopping $5 -- each) and a selection of Arkansas craft beers. Reasonably priced alternatives: Orange juice is $1.75; bottled water is a buck.
Weekend on 05/29/2014
Print Headline: Mylo’s fare tasty indoors, too