Kirk’s Wine Bar

Top Wine Bars Etc
  • Wine glass icon
    250+ local and international listing, with smaller producers dominating
  • Fork icon
    French bistro
  • Folding chair icon
    40 inside, 45 outside

The lowdown

An intimate wine bar, Kirk’s feels like it’s been around forever, and could easily be dropped inconspicuously onto the streets of Paris. Expect cutting-edge small-make wines from around the world matched with smart takes on classic bistro food, along with impeccable cheese and charcuterie.

The nuts & bolts

  • Opened 2014
  • Function spaces: Various spaces for 20–60 guests

Just as Con Christopoulos was almost single-handedly responsible for reclaiming the Paris end of Melbourne’s city from what looked like terminal decline some decades ago, he too is redrawing the borders west of Elizabeth Street. In territory mired in restaurant touts, with menus pitched mainly to a tourist audience, and otherwise populated by city workers (most of whom would be well on their way home before dinner service began), this was historically a challenge too great for many pioneers. But, if there’s anyone who can identify opportunity, it’s Christopoulos.

On the site of Kirk’s Bazaar Hotel, one of the city’s oldest pubs, Christopoulos has applied his typical eye for detail and craftsmanship in a decidedly compact site, creating a wine bar that is so European in a distinctly Melbourne way, while simultaneously feeling long established and en pointe right now. This sense of belonging is felt right through, from the shoulder-to-shoulder Parisian-style terrace seating to the transporting cocoon of the cellar to the curved timber bar that welcomes you in a warm embrace.

Although an essentially petite venue Kirk’s Wine Bar still manages to carry just shy of 300 bottlings, spanning the globe and walking down paths both familiar and highly innovative. The by-the-glass offering is fluid, with some premium pours dispensed via Coravin. Working principally with smaller importers of European wines, and often favouring less-familiar regions, Kirk’s Wine Bar also delves deeply into what is making the Australian wine scene so interesting right now, with offerings from Arfion, Owen Latta and Patrick Sullivan, for example.

Business partner Ian Curley and new head chef Luke Fraser’s mostly French inspired menu has a strong charcuterie/oyster/cheese game, shifting the carte from lunch to dinner, with more substantial offerings, too. Food is served all day, with last orders taken an hour before closing.

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