It's hard not to fall in love with Excelsior Jones. The friendly cafe sits in what used to be an old corner store in the inner west suburb of Ashfield and is a welcome addition to a quiet neighbourhood that was, before Excelsior, devoid of a local haunt. Having to compete with popular neighbouring Marrickville and its drawcards of Cornersmith and Coffee Alchemy, Excelsior Jones is no doubt something the locals here will want to keep secret, especially with such a top-notch crew on board.
Co-owners Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor are both ex Le Monde, so too is the barista, Julian Beresford, who is steaming out their own custom blend of Five Senses coffee to perfection. Also on board to bring a touch of brilliance to the modest menu is Adrian Borg, who previously held stints at Assiette and District Dining.
The compact menu is a cracker. House-cured salmon hash with pearl shallots, fried buckwheat, poached egg, and fresh herbs ($16) is nourishing and tasty to say the least, while the bacon and egg sandwich with capsicum relish and aioli ($10) will please any fan of this staple.
For those who love a crunchy granola, go for the house-made version with roasted seeds, nuts, and creamy yoghurt ($10), and if you're around for lunch, try the chicken salad with black sesame, avocado, and bean shoots ($15) or a slow-roasted lamb sandwich with salsa verde ($14).
Feeling nostalgic? Your undoing could be a malted milkshake ($6.50) or a spider ($6), a real tribute to the classic milk bar days. But it's the cheeseburger that will win over the famished ($16). The tomato relish could be the crucial component, or perhaps it's the fried spuds that accompany this time-honoured favourite. Either way, it'll be hard to wipe a smile off your face afterwards.
The open space uses white wooden furniture with raw textures, and big windows help to highlight the abundance of air and space. Both James and Anthony are incredibly enthusiastic about providing a place where locals and people from all walks of life are welcome and feel comfortable, and the atmosphere definitely reflects this.
They're so passionate, in fact, that the name 'Excelsior Jones' came from historical research Anthony did into the area. Formerly the name for the street, before the current Queen Street, Anthony thought the pairing of the two words had a nice ring to it and slight mystique. Moreover, in Latin, 'excelsior' translates to 'ever upward'. You get the point.