Fans of Melbourne's City Wine Shop have a new offshoot to discover on the edge of the city's legal precinct: introducing Kirk's Wine Bar.
The latest offering from executive chef Ian Curley and business partners Con Christopoulos and Josh Brisbane (known best for The European, Melbourne Supper Club, Siglo and Spring Street Grocer), opened without fanfare on the corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke Street on Wednesday, but it was humming within an hour. It takes its name from the corner building's first tenant in the 1860s, Kirk's Bazaar Hotel.
Christopoulos's initial plans for a humble café were rejigged after tradesmen restoring the floorboards discovered a hidden cellar. A circular staircase now leads down to the underground lair, and its musty old walls are lined with some of the City Wine Shop's most popular bottles. Soon a 12-seater dining table will fill the space for private bookings.
The menus Ian Curley has designed for Kirk's keep comfort to the fore day-long. "It's like the City Wine Shop, but with a bit more finesse," says Curley. "And nothing on the menu will be over $25." It opens at seven for breakfast with the likes of a restorative croque-monsieur and Harris Smokehouse salmon on potato blini with a sunny-side-up egg. From noon to 11pm, it segues into wine-friendly snacks such as freshly shucked oysters, kefalograviera saganaki and pork-belly parcels ($15), along with a rotating selection of suitably ripe cheeses.
Nearby office workers will also be pleased to see a hole-in-the-wall takeaway opening beside Kirk's later this month, too. Organic Kitchen will serve cold-pressed juices, salads and wraps - all with Curley's seal of approval.
Kirk's Wine Bar, 50 Hardware La, Melbourne
Looking for more Melbourne dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Melbourne.