It is for this reason, and also because I was catching up with the lovely Tina from bitemeshowme on a weekday, that we decided to go to Excelsior Jones. We had seen all these photos on Instagram over the past few months of the dishes here, and we had just read about how it won Best New Cafe in the 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Awards. So, on a quiet and lazy Thursday afternoon, we rocked up to Ashfield to finally see for ourselves what the buzz has been about.
My first thought was, "how hipster Surry Hills." It is a cool Cornersmith-esque location and there was even a vintage bike parked outside. The cafe is incongruent with its surroundings - all suburban homes - but it is fantastic that a cafe like Excelsior Jones can open in the middle of nowhere in Ashfield and not just thrive but be a success. It also offers a fabulous alternative to the usual bustling strip of Liverpool Road where your dining choices are dumplings, dumplings or more dumplings!
Our dishes arrived and they were definitely the two most popular dishes with all of the other diners in the restaurant - plates and plates of cheeseburgers were winding their way to tables from the kitchen! The cheeseburger is a small but very juicy burger on a brioche bun. The cheese was extremely melty, and we were warned that the burger was cooked to medium rare but there was no pink inside at all. I found the burger to be incredibly soggy due to the juiciness of the meat - the bottom bun fell apart in my hands as I went to take a bite. The winner of this dish was, without a doubt, the deep fried spuds: crispy, they had to be at least twice or thrice cooked!
The pork hock hash arrived at the same time and the egg was perfectly poached, oozing yolk when Tina cut into it. The pork, when you got crispy bits, was fabulous, but I think overall the dish could've used a little more seasoning to lift the flavours.
We didn't try any of the coffee (I know, a sacrilege because it's a cafe) as I'm not drinking coffee at the moment, nor am I enough of a connoisseur to know what's good and what's not. The popular dishes seem to be the cheeseburger and the pork hock hash, and the kids around us all seemed to love their chicken nuggets and crinkle cut fries. For a place that is kind of out of the way in Ashfield, it was full on a quiet Thursday - I can only imagine what it would be like on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I loved the bright airy space - it's something different and something welcome to the neighbourhood - I hope more restaurants / cafes follow suit and open up west of Redfern!
139A Queen Street, Ashfield