PINT-SIZED HERO (Herald Sun)

With exceptional brews on tap and impeccable Scotch eggs, this is the pub you didn’t know you needed, but won’t be able to do without.

KIRK’S: REVIEWED BY DAN STOCK

If Garden State Hotel is MeIbourne’s sharp-suited answer to a Sydney pub(anything you can do, we can do better) then Kirk’s is our perfectly formed retort to a modern British pub.

The new space is a delightfully diminutive timber, tile and terrazzo offering that joins Kirk’s Wine Bar next door and French Saloon upstairs. On the site of one of the CBD’s first pubs, Kirk’s completes the trio of Ian Curley/Con Christopoulos/Josh Brisbane venues on this corner of Hardware Lane with pork pies and pints.

And what a list of beers. The same minds that created the remarkable wine list next door have come up with something just as good here. A line-up of locals, including a saison from Exit Brewing in Dandenong and Derrimut’s Cavalier pale ale, join London Pride and Czech Budvar from the barrel. Brews by the bottle and can are more eclectic, with something for the casual sipper and serious beard-stroker alike (though at $16.50 for a longneck of Melbourne Bitter, we’re not in Abbotsford anymore).

So as not to rain on the wine bar’s parade (though the bluestone cellar here will be a winter winner), a selection of three whites (Kirk’s dry white No.1, No.2, No.3) and reds keeps things simple.

Likewise, the menu is focused on beer-friendly salty snacks, such as canned Spanish fish, terrine, pork scratchings and my new craving – the best Scotch egg in town. A hefty blanket of spiced mince surrounds the golden-centred nugget to create a protein ball that’s the bomb. It’s accompanied, rather strikingly, with a pickle, a daub of Dijon and a checkerboard napkin.

The croque monsieur is another candidate for best-in-class, where ham and bechamel nestle within airy, sweet white bread toasted to a buttery crunch. If the question is where to grab a beer and a bite, Kirk’s is the answer.