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Beat Eats: Melbourne's best small plates

There are rare occasions when my stomach sings for something on the lighter side, and when it does I opt for the same flavour force, just in smaller portions – ‘small plates’ if you will.

If you’re anything like me, then meal time means a big plate of something juicy and flavoursome. Food pleasure is one of life’s greatest gifts. Although there are rare occasions when my stomach sings for something on the lighter side, and when it does I opt for the same flavour force, just in smaller portions – ‘small plates’ if you will. Mostly, such plates can be found at sweet wine bars and restaurants married wonderfully with a wine or ‘aperitivi’. Here’s where I head for a small plate; still full of flavour, and just as indulgent.

Kirk’s Wine Bar is hard to miss, as its sibling venue – that just goes by Kirk’s – is next door, and the difference between the two is minimal. Both venues are equally spectacular – as all establishments by The European Group tend to be – and the times I’ve been lost between the two can only be described as amazing. Here a world of hidden cellars, fine-crafted finishes, and wine-cork aromas will cradle you through it all. Floating between the pair is a mystical haven for those who appreciate finesse. At Kirk’s Wine Bar, to dine in the cellar down the spiral stairs, you’ll need a team – although dining here, with the crisp, chilled cellar air, is a party comparable to none. It’s a perfect occasion venue. If you’re teamless, grab a table upstairs; these are sweetly small, perfect for close conversation and intimacy. Next door, much of the same story unfurls. Both venues have beautifully curated menus with small plates aplenty. Try the cheese at both venues that comes from Spring Street Grocer, another fantastic establishment by The European Group. 

North Melbourne’s almost-hidden wine bar Joe Taylor, is snug between shops on Errol Street. Having lived in the area for years, I have a local-love appreciation for the strange and enthralling spell the suburb has on all that come through; slightly developed with cafes and bars – think Auction Rooms – yet holds the feeling of an old country town – shoe repair stores and comedy clubs. Put simply, the street is still pretty daggy, and in my opinion, daggy is the untouched coolest of all. Joe Taylor is a styled and relaxed bar which sits comfortably amongst it all. I often enjoy a bottle of wine and charcuterie board with pickles, fruits and nuts. I would also suggest the pork croquettes with tomato and mushroom for something a little heartier. Still hungry? Try the 750g ribeye on the bone to be shared among friends.