It’s in an area so residential that you wouldn’t expect to find a lone café, especially not a really good one. In fact, to pull up a stool at Excelsior Jones you’ve either got to live around these parts, or make a very deliberate trip here.
Owners Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor worked together at Le Monde, but after Svilicich sold up and went on sabbatical for a year, they decided to work together again.
They were decisive in choosing the spot, which borders a few suburbs lacking in cafes. Svilicich lives in the area and cites Ashfield as a “changing and growing suburb, a good mix of people”. But he felt there was a lack of that communal hub. “I’d drive past the building nearly every day and it was a vacant eyesore. But it seemed like a nice little pocket where all these suburbs could meet.”
Sitting on a wedge at an intersection, the large windows give the cafe a deluge of natural light. It’s an immediately uplifting space. The fit-out is spare without being too cool or pedantic and the staff are lovely, even during the traditionally difficult first week of service. Butted up against the kitchen, the breakfast bar offers an insight into the cogs that keep the whole thing ticking and is also a great spot for a quick pit-stop for a 5 Senses house blend coffee.
It might be too early to call a signature dish, but at this stage it would have to be the hash served with either house-cured salmon or pork hock, topped with a perfectly poached egg and a scattering of herbs. The lunch portion of the menu is an odd combination of modern dishes and diner-esque classics. It touts enticing salads alongside chicken nuggets and chips and a cheeseburger of Angus beef and gruyere, served up with fried spuds.
While the name sounds like some fictional hero, it’s in fact a little nod to its location. Queen Street was once originally called Excelsior, and changed to Jones in the 1900s. While this may seem a locals-only cafe, it’s actually an excellent excuse to venture a tiny bit further from the inner city belt for some impressive fare in a bright spot. It’ll have you wishing you were a local soon enough.