I’ll be the first to say I’m not a huge fan of summer. Instead, I’m that person who’s in love with the shoulder seasons, when it’s a little bit cool, a little bit warm and you’re not always sure how many layers you should be wearing. But really, it’s all about cool, but comfortable evenings, when one can sit outside with a girlfriend and some bubbly, gossip, laugh and have a good nibble.
Kirk’s Wine Bar is just perfect for that, especially the outdoor seating on a good night. The little round marble tables and chairs that face outward remind me very much of Europe, and cities like Paris, which encourage people viewing and general casual observation of the world as it passes by. It is very quaint, and a touch quirky, in a laneway that’s notoriously well known for being a tourist trap. Hopefully Kirk’s Wine Bar can be a strong movement in changing that!
Daisy and I had decided to visit Kirk’s Wine Bar after going to the Caulfield Cup preview, where I met Ian Curley for the first time. Daisy had already met him before, and after a quick chat with the slightly gruff, but friendly chef, we knew we had to pop down to Kirk’s Wine Bar and check out what his new spot had to offer (which is co-owned with Con Christopoulos and Joshua Brisbane).
After coming out to greet us, we decided to let him just feed us, since we naturally assume he would know best!
We certainly weren’t disappointed.
Ian ensured we were well fed, with a bevy of very decently sized nibbles, perfectly suitable for just a quick snack, or put together, a more substantial meal, as Daisy and I had.
Taramasalata dip was cool, slightly tangy and refreshing, and more than just being made from fish roe, actually had some in it too, adding literal pops of texture. The richly charred bread was just the thing to go with it as well. Daisy and I could not stop cooing over the polenta chips with shallot aioli, thick golden and lightly crunchy fingers of goodness. Daisy claimed these were her favourite of the night (continuously)!
The zucchini, tallegio and prosciutto croquettes were also simply stunning, rich and decadent in aroma and the once again golden exterior did not disappoint, with a satisfying crunch and a most pleasing cheesy filling, with just the a nice little salty kick from the prosciutto.
Fried whitebait. Who remembers when every restaurant in Melbourne had these? I definitely don’t see these around as much as I used to, and I have to wonder why while munching on Ian’s. Ever so lightly battered and quite meaty, I quite quickly munch my way through half of the bowl before I even realise it!
As I’m pondering to myself that quite a lot of the dishes we had were fried, Ian seems to know what I’m thinking and quickly distracts me with a simply stunning plate of fish, I think it’s salmon, but this meal was a little while ago, so please don’t shoot me if I’ve gotten it wrong! I do recall that it was very cool and sweet, the slices of oranges adding a very pleasant zing and freshness to the dish.
Because I’m naturally eating with the queen of dessert’s, our night is finished with a rich salted caramel and chocolate treat. This honey is dense, thick and simply decadent. Not for the faint hearted in the slightest, but for the sweet tooth? Simply heaven.
Let’s also not forget we’re at a wine bar, and although I don’t record the drinks I order, I do recall being quite impressed by the breadth and diversity of the wine menu. It’s not big, but it’s well thought out and certainly makes me want to try a little bit of everything and if you’re not sure of what to order, the staff certainly do and effortlessly walk me through what they think I might like based off my preferences.
I’m immensely impressed with Kirk’s Wine Bar, the food is solid, comforting and clever, flavours are punchy and prominent and the atmosphere is simply effortless, laid back and easy going. I’ve been dying to come back to try breakfast, but I’ve had very few weekends in Melbourne recently, so hoping that an opportunity will be coming up soon!
50 Hardware Lane