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Emilia reviews a cosy tapas and wine bar tucked away in Melbourne’s north-east!

emilia reviews
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Little Drop of Poison

937B Main Rd


What does San Sebastian, Bilbao and a Little Drop of Poison have in common? Pinxos. That is tapas but from Basque country in the north-east of Spain where you would never dare utter the words “Spain” or “Spanish” for fear of being immediately shot down, “we are not Spanish, we are Basque”.

Despite the Spanish government abolishing their independence in 1839, Basques are still fiercely independent and their food (and hospitality) reflects that. Bold flavours with adventurous choices and a glowing warmth of welcome. 

Down an alley, past a colourful wall of street art you’ll find the illuminated, A Little Drop of Poison tucked away. Little is a good word to have in their name because little it certainly is, in a “we’re all mates here” but also hugely encouraging of DnM’s “deep and meaningful) kind of way. You feel part of something.

One of their colourful locals when asked how their food was tonight dropped to his knees and praised the front of house chef, James Karaoulis – who does a lot of their preparation behind a deli bar as well as serving customers and checking on everyone.

The food came out in succession as the tables allowed us to chow through only a couple of dishes at a time. The starters were two of the star dishes of the whole night – a croqueta with creamy bechamel sauce on lines of aioli excited me for what more there was to come, and the grilled chorizo and cheese taco with jalapeno sauce was bite size but moreish.

The spiced cauliflower with caper and miso hot sauce dressing had the perfect amount of crisp outside while being fall apart as you ate it, the grilled prawns swam in garlic and chilli vermouth with bread accompanying it to dip and soak, because you definitely will want garlic and chilli bread and they also included the bread with their pork and beef meatballs with sofrito and topped with manchego cheese. Again, you’ll be wiping the bowl with the bread to get more of the sofrito sauce.

There had to be some patatas consumed, because – did you even pinxos if you didn’t have crispy, friend patatas? This one was draped in Peruvian salsa that had a sweet mustardy flavour to it and cream, much like the bread, you’ll be dragging the potatoes through the sauce to sop it up.

We ended the meal with churros, take away, mind you as we were bursting at the seams at this point. I loved these crunchy little mini churros with chocolate ganache dipping sauce. 

We did get the oritz mussels which were fancy but in a can, not really my style – if you’re not much of a canned fish person I’d side step this but if you quite enjoy the jarred, canned anchovies, mussels, octopus, tuna fillet etc, I’m sure you’d happily finish it easily. 

Wine list is curated, thoughtful Victorian and Spanish wines and killer cocktails.

Prices were fair, the average dish cost just over $21 and the most expensive dish was $34. 

We were sent off with boxes of take away containers of anything we couldn’t finish, like walking away from your mum’s house. That was the take away from a Little Drop of Poison, everything feels comfortable but elevated, thoughtful.

emilia reviews