There are three plates in front of us and all of them contains potatoes of some kind. Crispy, golden specimens that have the dieting among us swooning in carb-loving coma. A ordering oversight turns into a lunchtime potato fest and do any of us look bothered? Nope, not a bit...
I was having lunch at Excelsior Jones with Inner West locals Celia and Pete and they had left the ordering to me. When we received our menus Pete had noted the pork hash and Celia just had one request, for the crinkle cut chips with aioli. I had a hankering for a cheeseburger on the neat twelve selection menu. So orders were made and we sat back and looked around.
A question to our delightful waitress about whether it's ok to take photos is met with an "Of course, Instagram away!". Excelsior Jones is hidden away in one of Ashfield's suburban streets and was started by Le Monde's Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor, the former who is tending to the coffee machine. He lives closeby and tells us that he decided to open up Excelsior Jones (a former mixed business that caught on fire and has now been refurbished) mainly because it suited his lifestyle and family. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming on this week day afternoon although we can imagine that weekends are much busier.
"You need to sing the lime and the coconut song!" Celia said when they set the milkshake down. I wish all places did kid sized adult food to be honest. That way I can try more and let's be honest I am really kid sized in height at 155cms so I'll never finish an adult's sized milkshake. It's not coconut milk but cow's milk flavoured with lime and coconut with a nice amount of sweetness to it.
The cheeseburger has a soft brioche type of bun filled with a grass fed Angus patty, melted gruyere, some iceberg lettuce and tomato relish. It starts a discussion on the best types of buns for burgers (unanimously: a soft bun is best and none of those hard buns that scrape the roof of your mouth please) and it's a good burger although I would have loved some pickle in it although Pete is perfectly happy with it sans pickle. And those roasted spuds? Yes those bronzed, crispy beauties? Fabulous in one word.
There was a choice of either salmon or pork hock to go with the hash and Celia made an executive decision to go for the pork. It's full of shredded pork hock, roasted potato pieces, crunchy fried buckwheat, roasted pearl shallots and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. And on top is a perfectly poached runny centred egg that binds the whole shebang together with an oozing, creamy sauce. There's a good range of flavours and textures here and it's a surprisingly filling dish particularly with the potatoes.
You see how the potato fest happened? We suddenly realised that we had an excess of potatoes on the table and that it seemed perfectly fine to do so. The chips come out fabulously crispy golden and piping hot with a strong caramelised garlic aioli. "We didn't need these" Celia says and I add "Yes but I'm so glad that we ordered them."
The granola was ordered as dessert and it's a beauty. I love toasted granola and this is a house made version with plenty of pepitas, poppyseeds, sunflower and chia seeds in the mix. Underneath are orange segments and stewed rhubarb and on top are three dollops of poppyseed speckled natural yogurt. The surprise is a sprinkling of lemon balm leaves on top which make this an aromatically gorgeous dish where you get the fragrance of lemon but without the sourness.
"Is there more food happening?" Pete says somewhat alarmed. You see the thing is is that when they leave the ordering to me, there _always _seems to be more food happening. And a meal isn't complete without a little chocolate at the end. After doing a quick walk (like a drive-by but without a car with the sole intention to perve on sweets) by the sweets cabinet I decide to go with a brownie and a hot chocolate.
The Callebaut brownie is good and quite rich although on the soft cake to gooey brownie spectrum, it's more towards a cake.
The hot chocolate is made with Zokoko hot chocolate and isn't bad although it could be a bit more chocolatey-I like mine very chocolatey and thick and whilst it's good it's not as strong as I'd make it at home but with a bite of the brownie, it's a good match.
"Has the food stopped?" Pete says and sadly we nod our head as we are completely full of food. A nice surprise is that our bill is very reasonable at $23 a head for what amounted to a lot of food. "You'll be seeing us a lot" Celia says to them as we exit. Alas, I probably live a little too far away to make it my local.
So tell me Dear Reader, who does the ordering when you eat out? Does everyone order for themselves or is there one person that you leave to order? Do you like choosing what to eat for everyone?
129A Queen Street, Ashfield, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9799 3240
Monday to Friday: 7:30am 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am 4pm
Kitchen closes at 3pm