Crow's Nest Barbershop
I had no idea what was going on, apart from that Ma Cherie asking that I don’t shower and shave (an uncommon request) prior to. She had booked an appointment and decided to surprise me with this most interesting visit and unique experience.
We climbed their wooden deck front going around the few people using it as a seating public space, to reach the dark blue painted brick Victorian house, with white framed windows. Their art-nouveau inspired logo was a decal on the window, not reading too well as it go darker and the warm light behind it shined. The classic barber pole by the entrance, helped ensure those who didn’t find the logo.
We entered the long narrow room and started gazing around at all the artifacts filling the space. The host at a tiny desk promptly brought our attention back to check us in. Being 20 minutes early, our booked hair stylist was not yet ready so we went for nice stroll in the neighbourhood. Ma Cherie did not really have much to go by when choosing the stylist – the website only offers photos and availability, in other words, the choice was a complete wildcard.
The salon was bright with a unique masculinity to it, and no, that was not only because Ma Cherie was the only lady in there. It was also a taxidermist dream with plenty of animals hanging off the milky green walls. At the same time, one wall was completely committed to Christianity - if taken in isolation, one might not think this space was meant to be a barbershop. However, near the back there was sudden change of mood, almost creating a sense of a second room. The walls there were adorned with white subway tiles and a dark blue wallpaper with flowers covering the ceiling. Old hardwood flooring all around and oak-like wooden details helped up-keep the atmosphere throughout the long space.
All stylists had old-school while uniforms and it was not a vest with a dress shirt, nor a hipster apron, but a barber smock. There was definitely something to that giving the business a traditional edge from back in the 60s perhaps.
I was taken to one of their retro chair, which surprisingly worked with all its bells and whistles. A tad choppy in its movement, it had a cushiony leather neck hold, fully lying extension, height adjustments, foot prompt and, of-course, a swagger of its own. My experience started off a bit negatively - we didn’t sign up for the proper experience. I was really meant to get a cut and shave, not just a cut and a beard trim. One takes 1.5hrs while the other only 1hr.
To the actual experience, the cut was fast, quick and easy. When it came to the shave, I got steamy towels all around my face as the chair retracted to a fully relaxed position. Next, Mac shaved me with a straight razor blade, which felt a bit course mostly because we did not get a chance to fully warm up my face. Ma Cherie was enjoying the view throughout - it was a real man facial experience. The music got switched to a full Sinatra album in the meantime. Her favourite part was all the barbers in tattoos humming and singing Love and Marriage. Mind you, all the staff seemed close to one another as they all casually dissed the songs they don’t like, or styles they didn’t feel like listening to and were discussing the going out plans for the evening.
Ma Cherie was hoping I’d get a bit of consultation from Mac about the facial hair and what he recommends to use, but perhaps that is something that happens as I become a regular and have less of a time constraint.
When we were living near Kensington Market, we didn’t pay enough attention to all the barber shops and generic hair salons dotting the area. There is a whole subculture of scissors-wielding pros ready to help you part with your cash and unwanted hair. Among the run-of-the-mill generic ones, there are a few gems worth exploring. This spot is definitely king in this world. Definitely worth the experience.
PS: Ma Cherie thought there was something special to that aftershave ginger scent - she called it Gentleman Smell.