"I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly."
Just like the way Ron Burgundy expresses his love of scotch, Melburnians too are food fiends to a fault. We have our favourite bars and nosh spots and we may as well have a PhD in where to get the best doughnuts. With such a slew of delights at every turn, it takes a fair bit to send us scuttling across town — but when the goods are worth it, we'll happily travel miles. In order to warrant such a trip, the rules are simple: the venue must to be truly special, or at the very least have some damn fine drinks. At The Kilburn in Hawthorn, they have both.
Occupying a prime seat at the corner of Burwood and Glenferrie Roads, The Kilburn lives in a heritage building that once housed the Hawthorn Commercial Bank of Australia. Previously the cigar haven Baranows Lounge, owner Ben Baranow and his father set about rejuvenating the venue as a whisky bar, and opened up in April.
When you exit the hustle of Glenferrie Road, you'll slip through the double doors into whisky paradise. The venue has been revamped with a careful eye; there's plenty of gleaming copper and stained glass, set off with touches of leather and low seating. All of this gives way to the commanding wall of whisky that presides over the venue.
Take a seat at the long wooden bar and order up a boilermaker to sooth your post-work soul, or nab one of the leather booths for a tête-à-tête over a whisky flight. If you're up at the bar you'll most likely be treated to a bit of a chat about whatever you've ordered, and if you're flummoxed by choice (as you may well be — there’s over 600 whiskies on offer) the bartenders will happily guide you through your options.
The thoughtful cocktail list uses innovation to make the whiskies shine without overshadowing, and offerings like The Queen Millionaire ($18) and the Killer Burns ($19) are both worth a sip. There are also plenty of non-whisky based imbibements, like the Rolling Rock Margarita ($19), which is equal parts dizzying and delicious.
The boilermaker list is nothing short of exciting, and combines a range of beers and ciders with whiskies ($16-24) for the perfect pick-me-up. Whisky heads can up the ante with a whisky flight (from $24) and explore a region in greater depth. Plus, if nothing on the list quite hits the spot, a bespoke boilermaker or cocktail would be nothing doing: "If we can make it, we will," says bartender Lam.
If you're peckish, opt for a Ploughman's Plate, piled high with cured meats, cheese, pickles and the lightest of duck parfaits (small $19, large $27.50). If you're just after something light, why not sample some blue cheeses paired with a flight ($40), or just grab the cheese on its own ($22.50). Hungrier than all that? Then just plump for a pizza, lovingly provided by Santoni Pizza across the road.
Hawthorn is producing some big hitters who are doing great things, and The Kilburn is no different. If you're not a Hawthorn local, make the trip. It's well worth it.
Wanna bone up on your whiskies? Take a look at our whisky cheat guide.
Images: Thomas Ernest Graham
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