By Gillian Grace
So fresh-pastry-starved was Danforth East, that I suspect we would have been grateful for any bakery. But Celena’s, which is having its grand opening this weekend, is not just any bakery — it’s a really good one. A worthy croissant can be hard to find in Toronto, but theirs is rich and buttery; the chocolate croissant (available only on weekends) is the decadent, Parisian ideal.
As any specs-wearing customer can attest, everything is made fresh daily, in house (to arrive on a Saturday morning is to experience temporary, albeit fragrant, blindness as your glasses fog up from the baking). An open plan kitchen lets you see the fresh loafs as they’re brought out from the oven. The interior is laid out for perfect sunny morning lolling, with lots of space for strollers and a wheelchair-accessible washroom.
It’s run by husband-and-wife team Celena and Richard, who met at the culinary management program at George Brown. Running a bakery of her own has been Celena’s dream since she was 16, and, when the couple started to get serious about their business plan, friends urged them to open in the neighbourhood. The two spent four months gut-renovating a former framing store, and soft-opened February 6th. Most mornings, they’re in the store kneading and mixing by 4:45 a.m.
So far, the whole wheat bread (baked in a tin to lend it the shape and height of a traditional sandwich loaf) is one of their more popular items, as is a roasted garlic sourdough (try it for an extra-tangy grilled cheese). Celena and Richard make all their own preserves, which they use to make the filling for their Danishes. Also much adored are their scones, which come in three kinds, blueberry-chocolate, strawberry and cheese. Place a special order for birthday cakes and larger numbers of cupcakes; individual cupcakes and smaller gâteaux are up for grabs in the fridge.
Up next? Celena’s is hoping to introduce meat and chicken pot pies, joining other savoury offerings such as a daily soup and pizza, as well as espresso, lattes and cappuccinos.