Wine bottles have replaced beer kegs beneath a corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke Street in the city, where a hotel called Kirk's Bazaar once stood. Owner-chef Ian Curley says the underground room at his new Kirk's Wine Bar makes an excellent wine cellar and dining hideaway, and the bottles in it are the inspiration for his Euro-accented menu of shared bites and meals. It's the latest addition to the European Group's wine-savvy stable (other venues include The European, City Wine Shop and the Melbourne Supper Club), for which Curley is executive chef.
On the ground level at Kirk's are pavement tables and cafe seating in a room with ''a Venetian feel'', Curley says. You can start the day with porridge, crumpets or croque-monsieur, before moving into lunches and evenings that might include oysters, cheese, arancini and cheeky bar-snack specials of ''pork crackle'', fries with malt vinegar, or classic steak tartare. Keep your eyes peeled for a soon-to-open takeaway window offering juices and light lunches to go.
Open Monday to Friday from 7.30am, weekends from 9am. The kitchen closes at 10pm and the bar at 11pm.
Kirk's Wine Bar, 50 Hardware Lane (corner Little Bourke Street), city 9600 4550.