Housed in a historic corner building, this new diminutive, lane’s-edge bar was once home to the Kirk’s Bazaar Hotel, one of Melbourne CBD’s earliest pubs and a haven for jockeys, farriers and the then-fledgling horseracing industry (this part of town was home to a horse bazaar and sale yards in the early-to-mid 1800s).
Eighteen months in the planning and open less than a fortnight, the project is a joint partnership between Ian Curley (long-time executive chef of The European) and co-owners Con Christopoulos and Joshua Brisbane. Kirk’s Wine Bar has confidently taken on a part of the city that, nowadays, is better known for tourist traps and spruikers.
It’s a small space but the charming, lived-in aesthetic, warm service and undeniable buzz are sure to put you at ease from the get-go. What we really love is that, much like its sister venues, Kirk’s effortlessly manages the right balance between new-world informality and old-world sophistication. “We wanted to capture the timeless feel of the classic neighbourhood wine bars and cafes of old Milan, Paris and New York,” explains co-owner Christopoulos, adding that the design was inspired by “solid 1950s artisan details” and a sense of “simple high quality.”
Food-wise you can be assured of some excellent partners for the bar’s intelligent and always interesting offering of old- and new-world wines. Whether it’s for breakfast, post-work aperitivi or something a little more substantial, chef Curley’s European-accented menu offers plenty to smile about. You’ll find beautiful imported cheeses, house-made charcuterie, the freshest oysters and a tasty range of shared dishes, such as the delightfully creamy burrata with charred leek, walnuts and smoked honey.
The cosy, convivial space fills quickly and is best suited to twos or threes, though there’s outdoor seating and the wine-filled cellar space can accommodate up to 12. A small adjoining shopfront will soon offer ready-made meals, takeaway lunches and organic cold-pressed juices too.
“I didn’t want to open a big restaurant and do the whole three-course thing,” says Curley. “I just really love the simplicity of a wine bar and I wanted to do the kind of food that I want to eat when I’m off duty.” When asked what he loves most about his new bar he says, “It’s the kind of space where you can just slow down and catch up with yourself. Rather than rush off for your train after work, why not just take half an hour, order a few oysters and a beautiful glass of wine and relax a little?” he says. Sounds like pretty sage advice to us.
Kirk’s Wine Bar
Corner Hardware Lane and Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9600 4550
Mon to Fri 7.30am–11pm
Sat & Sun 9am–11pm