Excelsior Jones may have only been trading for three weeks (day one was January 11) but locals can't get enough. Ashfield is home to many a fine dumpling house, but finding a decent cafe has always been a struggle. Co-owners Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor (both ex- Le Monde) have come to the rescue, opening up Excelsior Jones in a long-gone local grocery store in a residential street in Ashfield.
The name sounds more like a superhero but apparently Excelsior and Jones were both former names of Queen Street where it sits, research undertaken by Anthony early on.
The corner building on a triangular-shaped block reminds me a little of Cornersmith in Marrickville, and so too, does it herald a new sense of hipster chic in a previously daggy (and proud of it) suburb.
Seating at the kitchen counter
Inside, the dining room is awash with natural light from surrounding large windows. There's plenty of evidence of attention to the finer details, like a slick logo and industrial light fittings and there are more brown science bottles (for tap water and sugar) than a hipster could possibly ask for. Wooden chairs and tables and bare floor boards give a clean finish but minimal insulation can make for a loud and clangy meal when the room is full (and on weekends, that's almost always).
We fuel up with coffees and chai for our weekend breakfast. They use Five Senses coffee beans here and my double shot flat white is reasonably strong with a smooth finish.
Five Senses coffee beans at Excelsior Jones uses Five Senses coffee beans
Eggs benedict $14
The breakfast menu runs through lighter options like house-made granola with yoghurt ($10), poached and fresh summer fruits ($11) and sourdough pikelets with strawberry compote and custard ($13). We skip past the sauteed field mushrooms ($14) and bacon and egg sandwich ($10) and move into heartier fare, like the eggs benedict - two toasted muffin halves draped with smoky Black Forest gypsy ham, poached eggs and a runny lake of perfect Hollandaise.
House-cured salmon hash $14
with pearl shallots, fried buckwheat, poached egg and fresh herbs
Hash is my kind of breakfast. Nobbly bits of potato are pan-fried with buckwheat until crispy on the edges, served with micro leaves, sweet bulbs of slow roasted pearl shallots and a quivering poached egg hiding a runny yolk that will spill lusciously over everything in its path. The hash comes with shredded pork hock or chunks of house-smoked salmon, so intensely smoky it jars the palate at first, but the flesh is soft and rich.
View into the open kitchen
In hindsight we should have shared the pikelets for dessert, but we're distracted by the cakes in the window that include strawberry cheesecake and almond madeleines. We share a demure slice of carrot cake, moist and nutty with an artistic squiggle of cream cheeses frosting and two caramelised walnuts on top.
Carrot cakes and strawberry cheesecakes behind the counter
We don't get to the lunch menu but the slow roasted lamb sandwich ($14), marinated zucchini and haloumi sandwich ($12) and grass-fed Angus beef cheeseburger ($16) all sound tempting. You can even relive your childhood with housemade chicken nuggets and chips ($10) and a spider ($6).
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139A Queen Street, Ashfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9799 3240
Tuesday to Friday 7.30am-4pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm
Kitchen closed 3pm
Closed on Mondays
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2/04/2013 02:33:00 a.m.