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Puffins Bistro and Desserts

You’ll find an eclectic mix of European street food at Puffins Bistro and Desserts in Blue Ash. From which country specifically? We’re not quite sure. The interior has a Western European atmosphere, with tables and chairs resembling a French café and a wallpaper facade of red bricks and ivy vines evoking a rustic, Italian feel. On the other hand, the menus list specials and regular fare with strong Eastern European influences (borscht and piroshky, for example). It may be an international identity crisis, but it also makes for a quick and affordable lunch.

A glowing case of sweets on display will make you want to jump straight to dessert, though it’s wise to resist the urge. Start your trek through the menu-without-borders with a deep red-colored vegetable borscht soup and a Greek salad, or sample savory croissants stuffed with spinach, egg, and cheese, as well as pretzel-wrapped Bavarian sausages (though my pretzel was a bit overcooked). The signature item, however, is a piroshky, the Russian translation of an Eastern European dish of soft, buttered bread stuffed with meat and veggies, then baked together. I asked for broccoli and cheese and was served the potato, mushroom, and onion option instead. A delicious mistake it was, this baked pouch of comfort food. The buffalo chicken version was spicy and tender.

Make no mistake, dessert is the highlight. Cannolis (Italy) and baklava (Turkey) play supporting roles to the namesake cream puffs, with the classic French profiterole providing the last piece of Puffins’s cultural culinary puzzle. Flavors rotate daily, including a rich and creamy vanilla bean filling encased in a flaky, chocolate-dipped puff that’s big enough to share. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Puffins Bistro and Desserts, 11033 Reed Hartman Hwy, Blue Ash, (513) 600-6081, getyourpuff.com

Originally published in the December 2013 issue.