Excelsior Jones, Ashfield21:50
I know this place has been open for a while now and showered with a whirlwind of praise ever since its opening at the beginning of 2013. It's risen to fame in little over a year, and has gained Sydney-wide support for its great food and bustling atmosphere, a surprise find in the typically Asian-food-dominated suburb of Ashfield in the Sydney's Inner West. You need to go a little out of the way to find this cafe, situated unpretentiously in a corner block in the residential area of the suburb, and from the outside it may look quiet and unassuming. But behind the large glass windows lies a clean, simplistic but at the same time homey and comfortingly pretty little cafe with beautiful food.
I've always wanted to visit this cafe ever since first hearing about it, but it's taken me a long time to find the time to go. Having a big family we hardly ever find ourselves going out for brunch - either it's lunch or dinner, and when we do go to the area we love having dumplings and noodles; more bang for our buck. Cafes, truthfully, aren't really places we tend to lean towards when figuring out where we want to eat out. That's why I love it when we visit them, though mostly it's with Mum or in a smaller group. I may be a little late to jump on the Excelsior Jones bandwagon, but at least I can proudly say I've finally made the jump!
The weekend we visited was the Queen's birthday long weekend, so it was bound to be buzzing and bustling. We got there just at 12pm, when the lunch menu rolled around (though they do do an all-day breakfast, I did my research beforehand :)) and though originally shown to a spot along the bench that overlooked the kitchen, were lucky enough to nab a comfy corner spot next to the wide glass windows that allowed natural light to fill the space. Space between tables or two to four is a little cramped in some places, and there isn't a lot of privacy or room for conversation without hearing a snippet of what your neighbours may be chatting away about, but that's something that adds to the hip and happening, friendly and chilled atmosphere.
Keeping in mind they're for their somewhat marvellous beverage creations and famous Pork/Smoked Salmon Hash, we felt like something a little more lunch-y so went for a classic and something a little out of the ordinary. The menu had some very enticing dishes like Smashed Minted Peas on toast and Ricotta Hotcakes, as well as a twist on the classics such as a bacon and egg roll, toastie and eggs benedict.
Coconut and Lime Malted Milkshake ($6.50)
Not being able to resist the tempting malted milkshakes, of which there were flavours such as Jaffa, Cherry Ripe and Choc Mint (!), I haphazardly ordered the Lime and Coconut Milkshake. I was unsure how the malt would taste with the citrus-y lime and bold coconut (two flavours that were made to go together), but upon first sip I absolutely fell in love with it; the malt subtly lingering but not overpowering, still more of a coconut flavour than any other. It came out in a traditional metallic milkshake cup, large and icy cold, with a thick layer of bubbles frothing invitingly along the surface and a straw peeping out for easy sipping. Normally I don't go for milkshakes because I always find them so filling and heavy, but this one was polished off (with a little help from Mum) and left me feeling just right.
On to lunch! Our meals came out without having to wait too long, around 20-25 minutes, and I could just about eat them with my eyes when they were placed on the table.
The Cheeseburger came skewered in the middle with a side of crispy, addictive potato skin chips and ketchup. Sandwiched inside the toasted brioche bun was a slathering of tomato relish, aioli, lettuce and gruyere cheese melted onto a medium rare grass fed Angus Beef Patty. The patty was moist and flavoursome (we were given a choice of it being cooked either medium rare or well done) and the burger didn't fall apart upon deconstruction and eating. It wasn't too heavy and left us feeling quite content and not overfull once demolished.
Look at those fried spuds! They were a little bit of a cross between chips and fried potato skins, with a chunk of the potato inner still attached to the crispy skins so that the initial crunch is followed by a wonderful fluffy mouthful of potato. A great use of the starchy vegetable that is the humble potato.
Roast Cauliflower and Carrot Sandwich ($12)
We were in and out in just over an hour, feeling content and relaxed for a lazy Sunday. Upon paying we glimpsed a selection of their sweet treats on display in the glass case next to the counter. Perhaps next time.