By Stephanie Wilks
October 11, 2012
cheese pastries with a chocolate drizzle
Fast food eating is a skill in which Midwesterners are particularly adept. Per a study released last year by Population Health Management and reported on by The Washington Post, those below the Mason Dixon Line are too. Despite the amount of fast food chains per capita, Southerners and Midwesterners take the cake as the most frequent customers of fast food.
Case in point: when Ohio’s first Jack in the Box opened last month in West Chester, three police officers were stationed on Tylersville Road for nearly two weeks to control the massive amounts of traffic in and out of the restaurant. It’s like we’d never seen the inside of a preservative-infused hamburger before.
So why do we love fast food?
In the case of the Queen City, just look at our ancestors. In the 1800s Cincinnati was a city of mostly German and Irish descent, brimming with beer, meat, potatoes, and goetta. It’s no wonder that a stop at Mickey D’s is more appealing to many than a trip to Kroger or the like.
Good thing there’s a new bistro in town.
Meet Bazshena Terekhov.
“Bea,” as she likes to be called, opened Puffins Bistro & Desserts in Blue Ash last week. The restaurant aims to satisfy our culture’s taste bud preferences while, at the same time, reducing calorie count. As the name implies, much of the menu offers foods and desserts in pastry puffs.
Bea and her mother, Inna, know a thing or two about Eastern European foods, and their menu proves it. Many of Puffins’ recipes originate from Russia and nearby countries.
The “piroshky,” is a classic Eastern European “hot pocket,” stuffed with various pairings of meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, and jams. Bea uses either her homemade yeast dough or a flakier pastry and fills the pockets with health-conscious ingredients.
The broccoli, potato, and cheddar puff is filling but doesn’t leave you in a food coma. Moreover, I was surprised at how tasty and airy the vanilla choux pastries are, particularly because Puffins uses pure vanilla spice and minimal sugar. The dessert puffs are so divine that I fully intend to pick up a dozen of these scrumptious puffs for Thanksgiving dinner guests.
Mediterranean-inspired decor adds to the concept that at Puffins, lighter is better
But Puffins is not all piroshkies. They offer a wide variety of low-carb and veggie options, too, like salads, slaws, and soups. You certainly won’t find these slaws at Kentucky Fried Chicken. There’s no mayo here, and they’re completely vegetarian.
I particularly loved the “coleslaw salad” which contains zero cream-based ingredients, just cabbage, slow roasted sunflower seeds, sesame oil and lemon juice. And I can only hope the vegetable soup is what greets me at the pearly white gates – tastier than any offered at Panera Bread and with drastically less sodium.
At Puffins, you can easily get a fast, full-course meal without that unhealthy and overly stuffed feeling of guilt. Bea and her family have perfected the art of tweaking classic European recipes for the modern era. Not only is it refreshing to know that anything you put into your mouth at Puffins is completely preservative-free, but you’re certain to taste something unique to your palette as well. I already feel healthier, and I bet you will too.