Visited 4 bakeries in Bethesda area... after so much sugar and driving around I came up with these results:
Praline= I couldn't try their croissants neither any danish pastry, apparently in days they are busy they will run out of those so you will have to call in advance to order or visit them on days they don't get busy I guess. The service was very nice, the ladies at the counter were very friendly. We were three people and ordered, hot chocolate (it was good I thought it needed thicker consistency and richer chocolate flavour, the other two that were with me thought it was good, 10 points out of 6, considering Kafe Leopold's Hot Chocolate gets an 8 and Le Pain Quotodien us under Praline's quality).
We also ordered the pumpkin, double chocolate chip, chocolate chip & chocolate espresso cookies and I can say I liked the pumpkin one, the other cookies were fine but nothing special considering you are paying more than one dollar for each small cookie. I also ordered 2 macarons, the lime and the caramel one... I must admit that I didn't expect I was going to like more the caramel one, but it happened and it had enough filling (i read some people complaining about the filling, i thought it was just enough).
It was the favorite for the other people who were with me because it was very comfy and the ambience is good for hot drinks and pastries. (I would return).
Just Cakes= A place to order Wedding cakes mostly (if you register to their website you will get a coupon for a free cupcake, and yes they will let you pick any cupcake and the sweet lady will give you a cupcake info tour =). The service was great, but you have to buy to-go no chairs unless you are looking through catalogs to order a special cake. We ordered rum, chocolate & hazelnut-choco cupcakes. Nothing amazing and expensive, I usually don't order cupcakes, but because of the DC Cupcake "Fever" I had to try it and of course the Free Cupcake Coupon..
So here we go... Chocolate was fine, oily frosting, sugary not too much flavour, the cake itself missing chocolate... (the other person who tried it said it was good) The Rum one I thought it was missing Rum flavour and the vanilla frosting was just lacking flavour as well, I mean I don't know if they do a buttercream frosting but I just couldn't have it, I think they should whip it more or go with something lighter on texture and stronger on flavour. at least the cake.
The Hazelnut one (the other person took it home so I have no idea). I also ordered a lemon bar that was very sweet but tart enough and the crust was buttery, but too sweet for me again (and yes I love sweets! but this was too much to have a whole bar). I asked the lady about the hot chocolate and she actually told me to forget about it "it is just some powder" she said, I really appreciated her honesty. I don't think I will go again, unless I get a free coupon for something new.
Breads Unlimited= mostly bread and some puff pastries (huge ecliar, napoleons, didn't catch my eye), their coffee is not fancy is just like a regular coffee pot, I don't like coffee so I didn't care, they have a huge picnic table for whoever needs to sit and have a quick cup of coffee and have a slice of bread or danish. I wanted to try their cheese danish but they run out of it, so I decided to try the cherry, peach and lemon ones... they were all soft and the jams were tasty, no cornstarch at all or very little at least (for thickening I guess), 3 small ones for a dollar is a great deal, the bread didn't look interesting to me so I didn't buy any. I would go again to try the cheese danish.
Spring Mill Bread Co. = This place had the best location because the stores around them are interesting so you could actually park, walk around and have a slice of their bread. I saw cookies and bread, and they let you taste a couple of their fresh breads they are sampling.. we tried the raisin-walnut one and the Cinnamon swirl, they both were delicious, not too heavy and I can't wait to finish my slice tomorrow for breakfast with some butter. I also bought some mini white bread they were selling and I am confident is going to be flavourful, or at least I hope. They look very artisanal or at least that's what the local makes you feel, they have no tables so you have to order to-go. I would definitively go back and buy more bread.
At the end I can say I was surprised to find fresh danish and breads in some of these places considering I visited them after 3:30pm and most of them close by 6pm on Saturdays, so I believe if you want to try Praline's croissants you have to order in advance or go early, the same with the cheese Danish at Breads Unlimited, if you have to go to Just Cakes bring your free Cupcake coupon and try their salty caramels, and if you are going to Spring Mill try the bread they are sampling and take some home for next day's breakfast =)
Afterwards if you have to drive South (I think is south i live in Arlington), stop at Rodmans get some good cheap wine and then you are good for the rest of the night =)
(of course that wasn't my case, I ended up going to Astor's, I really needed savory food after so much sweet). Tomorrow I want nothing with Sugar and she wants nothing with me.
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