Kirk's Wine Bar is almost unfortunately placed. Everyday city-goers and tourists waltz down down Hardware Lane, hassled by waiters trying to lure people into their restaurants. But on the corner is Kirk's. No one stands outside with a menu board, which is exactly why you should walk in.
Glancing at the peeling paint exterior takes you back in time a little. Upon entering, you're almost transcended to a Florentine wine bar. The space is sprinkled with small, round timber tables, really only big enough to seat two. Which is fine with us, because, honestly, who wants to share a bottle of wine with more than one other person? Nice thinking Kirk's — you're onto us.
Why is it called Kirk's anyway? Isn't that the creaming soda guy? Well, it was also the name of the wine bar's previous tenants. One of the city's first ever pubs, Kirk's Bazaar Hotel, who first occupied the space in the 1860s.
Naturally, the wine selection has been carefully curated, including a nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy and a French muscadet from Domaine de la Pepiere. And don't worry, your Australian wines haven't been forgotten — there's a few of them in there too.
As for the menu, almost every part of Europe is represented as a starter, main or dessert. Smoked fishcakes with dill ($18.50), kefalograviera saganaki ($11.50) and a daily offering of bruschetta are just a few items on the vast menu. So whether you're in a French, British or Swiss mood, you'll be satisfied.
And Kirk's knows about the power of marrying food and wine. From midday, the options grow larger, in both variety and size. Gnocchi with mushrooms, sage butter and pecorino ($19) is on offer, as well as a free-range pork cotoletta with pickled apple ($24).
A spiralled staircase reveals a wine cellar with a 12-seater table, great for a large group of friends. You could probably spend hours down there — an CBD bunker filled with wine and imported cheeses, tucked away from all the noise? Perfect.
However, just because it's a wine bar you shouldn't feel pressured to order wine. Kirk's also offers cold-pressed juices and coffee if you're not in a grape mood. Plus, look out for French Saloon, a 60-seat dining room set to open upstairs at the end of the year.
Image credit: Tourism Victoria