There are few things more inspiring than young, intelligent people with the entrepreneurial fortitude to open an extraordinary new business from next-to-nothing. To any with the gastronomic guts to take a chance in the extremely difficult restaurant business, I salute you. For the most passionate of chefs, cooking and baking are more than simply ways to bring home a paycheck, they are natural extensions of themselves, pieces of their lives so cherished and special, they will stop at nothing to share their love with those they meet. Such is the story of Stephanos and Monica Mylonas, two fresh-faced newlyweds, striking out to carve their place in the Arkansas foodscape.
Stephanos, a native of Cyprus, met Monica several years ago while the two were living in England. Monica, a student deeply in love with the culture of all things edible, was completing a master’s degree in the anthropology of food. As the two became progressively entwined in each other’s lives, they found that cooking and eating became a binding force between them. During their time spent together in Europe, they took every opportunity to absorb the rich food culture that practically flooded the lives of the French, British, and Spanish people. In particular, they most admired the modern café tableau, which they describe as “a bright, minimally-decorated space that lets wholesome, rustic food speak for itself.”
When the two recently returned to the U.S., they threw themselves headfirst into the pastry business, still enchanted and inspired by the street vendors and cafes that speckle the streets of Europe. Their enthusiasm for remarkable food, the science of baking and coffee production, along with the aesthetic appeal of attractively constructed dishes, led them to create their still-young business, Mylo Coffee Company.
Monica and Stephanos currently operate Mylo Coffee Co. on weekends, stationing themselves at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturdays and at the Bernice Garden Farmers Market on Sundays. The two set up shop under a small awning and cram their few small display tables full with all sorts of eye-catching baked wares. While they plan to locate a physical shop in the future, they would like to continue to remain operational at the markets as well. They are committed to the small-batch mentality and place quality and craftsmanship above quantity and mass distribution. Eventually, they plan to carry this philosophy with them as they move from streetside to inside. Dedicated to the incorporation of local produce and other ingredients, they are also ensuring that their wonderful products are wholesome and flavorful.
Of course, all their pastry is handmade, all from original recipes, and they are bringing to Little Rock some items not commonly found at other bakeries around town. One of their totem items is their scratch-made croissant. These flakey, buttery morsels are offered either plain or with a thin bead of high-quality dark chocolate filling. Each comes out of the oven with a crisp, brown-gold exterior and a layered, soft interior. As you bite through, your teeth pass through numerous tiny pockets of air, creating a pleasurable, light sensation in the mouth, characteristic of a fine croissant.
More on Mylo after the jump...
Another of their specialties are the shortbread fingers. These thick-cut strips of sugar-dusted, dense shortbread are gently sweetened and crumble to bits in the mouth. They are simple and classic, but wonderful representations of Mylo’s attempts to create rustic country fare…not to mention they are delicious, perfect for dunking in your favorite morning beverage.
A lovely array of sweet tarts also helps elevate Mylo to well above your ordinary bakery. These change from week-to-week, but one of the flavors you will see consistently is the ginger crème brulee tart. Here a creamy, sweet custard base is spiked with a hint of spicy ginger, topped with a bruleed layer of sugar and topped with a spoonful of toasted pistachios. The flavors of this spectacular tart are bright, aromatic, and will awaken even the sleepiest of palettes. No less brilliant is the lemon meringue tart, wherein a sour and sweet lemon filling gets a toasted layer of peaked meringue, baked to perfection until brittle, crested waves of sweetened, whipped egg white become a deep golden brown as they fall gently across the surface of this petite dessert.
Their meringue, in fact, presents itself in an entirely different form as well. They bake up plain, lightly-sweetened dollops of snow-white meringue into fist-sized cookie-like structures that get dusted with cocoa powder. The finished product has a hardened, delicate exterior with a porous, crumbly center. These are something you’re not likely to find at any other bakery in Little Rock, another reason Mylo sets itself apart from the cookie-cutter, sprinkle-coated doldrums of ordinary pastry.
Regular customers are already addicted to their dark chocolate-cherry cookies, a soft, chewy delicacy laced with sweet black cherry bits and deep, rich dark chocolate. A dense flourless chocolate fudge cake (a wonderful option for the gluten intolerant) is also making a splash with chocolate lovers. Patrons are also likely to enjoy the moist, buttery blueberry muffins, tender cranberry scones, and peanut butter or salted toffee brownies.
Finally, their coffee is sourced from Westrock Coffee in Maumelle, who provides their single-origin Rwandan bean. They prepare a medium-to-dark roast using a pour-over method, where each serving is made from an individual filter and slow dripped into the cup below. Each order is freshly made, ensuring that you’ll never get a product that’s been sitting on a hot plate for hours. It may not be the speediest method to brew a cup of Joe, but it certainly results in a product that will get the attention of most coffee fiends and aficionados.
You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the folks at Mylo Coffee Co. I’m no foodie fortune-teller, but I already smell wonderful things in the future for this competent culinary couple. As they hunt down a location for their storefront, they’ll continue to serve their already sizable fan base each weekend. Like most business-savvy restaurants and bakeries today, Mylo keeps their Facebook and Twitter pages updated with their latest creations, experimentations, and weekly menus. For all pastry pirates like myself, Mylo Coffee Co. is one treasure you’ll want to plunder as often as possible.
On Saturdays, find Mylo at the Hillcrest Farmers Market located near the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church at 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock. Open from 7AM to noon. Now open year-round.
On Sundays, find them at the Bernice Gardens Farmers Market located at 1401 S. Main St. Little Rock. Open from 10AM to 2PM.