I got caught in the rain – I’m pretty sure that many of us did. I didn’t have an umbrella, so the droplets of rain were falling down my face. To my surprise, my makeup wasn’t running. Horrah!

I walked Jerik to a main intersection where he could catch a bus back home, and on my walk home, I found two wonderful places. One of them is Athens Beauty Salon, and the other is Pascal’s Baguette & Bagels.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful for two very different reasons. As a food critic and a writer, I love to find good and bad places to review. As a person who enjoys going to the salon, I love finding great places. Now you understand where I’m coming from.

Athens House of Beauty & Spa

Before going under the knife – uh, scissors

My first stop off is the Salon. I rushed inside, only to be greeted by a friendly smile and the nods of other patrons who had gathered in this local gem to hide from the rain. I quickly told Despina that I wanted to have red hair, and she smiled and told me a very reasonable rate: $75. I told her that I had every single colour in my hair, including black, but she said, $30 extra if I have to use bleach. Wonderful. I made an appointment for 11am the next day, and I bid adieu.

I went back the next day and not only was the owner fantastic, but her family came in and I got a hair that was styled by her nephew who couldn’t have been more than two years old. It was the cutest thing ever! Of course, she asked me if it was okay that her nephew was in the salon, and I loved it. She was very professional about the whole thing, but when I began laughing at the darling boy, everyone relaxed. You can tell that this is a family run business. I also had conversations with a lovely lady who has been going to Athens Salon for many years. She dropped in to have a coffee. LOVE finding places like this! 

I gave her a general summation of what I wanted my hair to be and she took off with it. I let Despina use her professional opinion (because honestly, what do I know? I’m a chef) and I’ve never been happier with my hair. It’s dark, but in the sunlight, it’s a radiant red. Perfection. I have never had so many compliments on my hair, and Jerik even said, “Oh Wow!” when he saw the red in the sunlight for the first time.

All in all, it cost me just over $100 with a tip. I will definitely be returning to Athens House of Beauty. I have linked their facebook page just in case you want to have the best hair care and salon treatments in The Junction.

Now, moving on to the second half of the rainy day…

Pascal’s Baguette & Bagels

I stopped in to Pascal’s Baguette & Bagels on another whim, and seeing as my first experience was great with the salon, I figured that maybe I’d go two-for-two. Boy, was I wrong.

How the bakery looked when I first walked in

I’ve been walking past this bakery for about a month, incredibly excited at all of the breadstuffs that its name boasted. I absolutely adore fresh bread! I ducked inside the bakery, and it was dimly lit. There were some scattered tables at the front, a dirty counter across from the register, and there was next to nothing inside of the cases.

A few tarts, a few scattered macaron, and a few packages of what looked like saran-wrapped leftovers littered the display cases. The bakery was absolutely dead – graveyard dead. There were no signs to tell me what it was that I was looking at. I really felt bad that I didn’t want to buy anything because it all looked old and you guessed it dead.

I chose a macaron over a tart, because there is so much that can go wrong with a tart – at least I would be able to dispose of the evidence into my handbag without having a sticky mess on my hands.

I spent $2 on a “Strawberry” macaron with what I would assume to be a sugar/dulce de leche filling. As you can see, the cookie was cracked every which way, it was stale and old. I can’t believe that they’re charging full price for these. Mind you, they are on the less expensive side than the exquisite macaron that can be found in Toronto, but still. They sold this to me.

They sold this to me

Okay. Stale. Old. Like a corpse. The macaron didn’t taste like anything – it was merely sweet. No strawberry, and the filling was just sugary. It was granulated, which I like, but I also know that this is a BIG no-no when making fillings. The items in the cake stands really didn’t look all that appetizing either. Get some stuff in your display cases – at least something that doesn’t look like yesterday’s lunch.

Ways for Pascal’s to improve:

  1. Improve the quality of your goods – If you’re not going to fill your cases, at least make what you do have a higher quality and don’t be afraid to mark down older items.
  2. Clean the bakery up – The gentleman in the bakeshop when I dropped by was friendly, but he also wasn’t doing anything. The tables were a mess, the counter was dirty. If you have time to lean, then you have time to clean (as a great colleague has told me)

Of course, what do I know? I’m just a trained pastry chef who has been in the industry for almost a decade. That’s okay. I bet that Pascal’s has more dough than dough these days. Take that however you wish to.

Their website worries me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m already paying for five different website names, I would add Baking, Butter, & Happiness as a “.com”. However, I don’t see what Pascal’s excuse is. Take a look at their website. Broken links, dark and blurred photographs, bad layout. Oh well. You’re on the right track, I guess. Good job, Pascal’s. /s

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On a side note: I was browsing Pascal’s website and I managed to come a princess cake. A friend and professional pastry chef and cake designer asked, “Is that from Cake Wrecks?” I laughed and died inside.

They have a nice little video up on their website as well. It’s a shame that I didn’t see any of that integrity when I went inside. Maybe I need to check back on a weekend when bakeries are usually booming. Uhh…maybe not.

Leaving you with a great note: looking for a bakery in The Junction? Try Solero Bakery and Pastries. They’re fantastic!

 

Just in case you didn’t know – The owner of Pascal’s commented on this post so I gave the bakery another try. Biggest waste of money ever. See what happened here.

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