Licking our lips and cleaning the plate.

Cincinnati Bites
Bibimbap from The Korea House

Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sometimes, it just takes a little chicken shawarma to set the tone for the rest of the day. But if "little" is what you're truly going for, then Milya Cafe isn't the place for you. Everything here is super-sized for your eating pleasure.

Milya is a Mediterranean restaurant located in Blue Ash. It's in a strip mall space formerly occupied by the much-missed Puffin's Bistro, which was run by an Eastern European woman peddling her delicious Pirozhki. Milya had some big shoes to fill, and it does so, to the very brim.

The restaurant features all the Mediterranean classics we Americans are familiar with: gyros, shawarma, falafel, kafta, hummus and flaky fish. You can get these classics as individual wraps, or as combination platters, accompanied by two sides (a choice of Greek salad, fries or seasoned rice).

We stopped by one weekend afternoon for lunch after eyeing their new sign and name change (they were briefly called, "Al Amir"). The interior will be very familiar to former Puffin's Bistro fans: virtually everything is the same, from the tables and chairs to the wall murals still sporting the Puffins name. A slick, rotating LCD screen menu hangs from the ceiling, accompanied by rotating images of select items.

My girlfriend ordered the Gyro Wrap Platter ($8.99) with a side of rice and Greek salad. I chose the Chicken Shawarma wrap ($5.99) with a side of "Greek" crinkle-cut fries topped with feta cheese and a Greek dressing ($3.49).

Within a few minutes, our impressively large, somewhat overwhelming amounts of food were served on trays. Take-out boxes would prove inevitable.

gyro platter Gyro wrap platter
chicken shawarma w/Greek fries Chicken shawarma w/Greek fries

The chicken shawarma featured seasoned, grilled chicken cut from a rotating spit wrapped in a toasty pita filled with tomato, onion, lettuce and sharp, yogurty tzatziki sauce. The chicken was intermittently crispy and juicy with a mild spice. My pile of "Greek fries" was enormous; the Greek dressing featured a spice profile very similar to what you'd find in Skyline Chili and was very similar to flavors we've experienced in Greece: there were definite chocolate and cinnamon notes despite its savory profile, pairing surprisingly well with the feta cheese. It was a remarkably addictive combination.

My girlfriend's gyro was chock-full of thinly sliced, tender gyro meat, which is typically a mixture of pork, beef or lamb (though we also enjoyed plenty of chicken gyros in Greece). The meat was assertively spiced and difficult to stop eating, marrying well with the cool, crisp lettuce, tomato and tzatziki. The pleasingly seasoned yellow rice seemed to have been steeped in chicken broth, and the salad was light and refreshing.

Milya Cafe is a worthy successor to Puffin's Bistro, offering great takes on Mediterranean classics, featuring huge portions at affordable prices.

Milya Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Milya Cafe

Price: Cheap (under $11 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.0 out of 43.0 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. A Mediocre Lunch at Firehouse Grill
    -posted Sunday, October 8, 2017
  2. Southern Indian Impressions: Udupi Cafe
    -posted Saturday, September 23, 2017
  3. New Downtown Korean Restaurant: Haru
    -posted Tuesday, August 29, 2017
  4. Pleasant Ridge Impressions: Nine Giant Brewing
    -posted Monday, August 7, 2017
  5. Mediterranean Musings at Milya Cafe
    -posted Sunday, July 16, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    yes!
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo:
    But...do they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design