139A Queen Street Ashfield, New South Wales 2131
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 9799 3240|
SO WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR Surry Hills hipster-barista days start to segue into your dude-dad era? You move west, young man, to a place that has houses with child-friendly backyards - and you start taking as much care with the babycino as with the single-origin ristretto.
Case in point: Anthony Svilicich and business partner James Naylor, who used to run the buzzy Le Monde in Foveaux Street, have moved 10 clicks west and converted an old convenience store into a cool, white, big-windowed, tall-ceilinged cafe.
Svilicich is now a local (although still quietly amazed at seeing a Shetland pony in the street instead of the usual fixed-gear bicycle) and has been overwhelmed by the number of people welcoming the cafe with open arms. ''It's a beautiful, heritage-listed area with a far greater sense of community,'' he says.
In response to the new demographic, the menu is kid-friendly enough to have pikelets and a simple ham-and-cheese toasty as well as that milk bar classic of yesteryear, the fluorescent lime spider. There's also a good-looking cheeseburger that comes with a pile of unequivocally deep-fried chunky spuds on the side that gets every head turning each time it goes to a table.
Chef Adrian Borg bustles about the large professional kitchen dishing up snappy breakfast/brunch plates of smoky salmon rillettes and poached egg on toast and lunches of serious slow-roasted lamb sandwiches; the kind you have to sit down and eat from a plate. On weekends, breakfast luckily extends all day, so you don't have to get up early for what is rapidly turning into the hot order: a rich, shreddy, pork hock and potato hash tossed with nutty fried buckwheat and topped with a perfectly poached egg. Sleeping in is probably a distant, pre-kids memory anyway.
There are a few cakey things upfront - anzac biscuits, choc-chip muffins - but I'm thinking they'll need a few more as they go along.
Excelsior Jones is new, noisy, and still a bit gawky - no matter where you sit, you think you're in someone's way - but the coffee side of things couldn't be more adult. Barista Julian Beresford runs a Five Senses custom blend through the powder-coated, matt black Synesso that's smooth, rich, and milk-friendly. Makes you feel sorry for all those hipsters stuck back there in poor, isolated Surry Hills.
Do … have the lime spider.
Don't … drive straight past, there's very little signage.
Dish … pork hock hash with poached egg, $16.
Vibe … cornershop cool.