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Loco for Poco

For 19 years, Gertrude Knight and Marc Wagnon have delighted diners in their Spanish inspired restaurant Moorish, with tantalising tapas and sweet sangria on the menu, a favourite for locals and a must do on the itineraries of visitors to Darwin.

By Tierney Seccull

Although Covid threw some [huge] spanners in the works for the hospitality industry, with staffing challenges and the constant possibility of being shut down at a moment’s notice, Gertrude, Marc and their team have pulled through. With a brand spankin’ new bar, no less!

The shutters of Poco, appropriately located behind Moorish on Spain Place – which is a total fluke, by the way – were first lifted in early August, the sweet little “hole in the wall” bar enticing thirsty folks to take a sip and a seat.

“We didn’t even realise when we opened Moorish that we were backed on to Spain Place, we only knew Knuckey Street, Spain Place was just the bin area,” Gertrude says.

“That space has become a destination. I think taking back the laneways and turning them into really vibrant cultural enjoyable spaces has been really great. People feel that they can safely transit through – there’s lighting, there’s love, there’s civic pride – I think it’s really good.”

Poco is Spanish for small, although Gertrude notes it’s grammatically incorrect to reference the bar in that way.

“Poco means ‘a small something’. We really like it, it sounds cute!”

It is cute. When Poco’s not open, it’s a blink and you’d miss it kind of thing, bar some sweet discreet signage and a couple of black matte fans. But even with the shutter down and no furniture to be seen, you just know the space is hiding a delicious secret.

When the shutter’s rolled up, a glistening treasure trove awaits, with emerald fish scale mosaic tiles, natural woods, and chic black and white branding. The traditional bistro settings nestle neatly amongst planters on wheels that form a green screen to cool the space. The striped bistro awning makes the 4.30pm open time a delightful spot to take in the atmosphere.

It’s early days, but Gertrude says they’re keen to keep things manageable whilst maintaining their standard of quality.

“We’ve found that people would like us to offer Moorish food at Poco, but Marc and I have been resistant to that because it’s a small bar, limited in space, and our kitchen has already got the speed wobbles with the restaurant,” she says.

“We’re still nutting it out, but we offer simple food. Marc has done some beautiful pickled octopus, and we’ve also got 24-month aged Serrano ham and some beautiful Spanish cheeses. Marc loves pickling things, so he does local pickled radish and cornichons, and we’ve got chicken liver pâté and chargrilled bread.

“The plan is to do five-five-five of everything. Five cocktails – and our wonderful bartender Reid’s changing them every week – five wines, five beers, and five European bar snacks that are updated all the time.”

If you’re tempted to knock both bar and restaurant over in one fell swoop, with a meal at Moorish and a rendezvous at sweet little Poco, that would be an afternoon well spent.

So take a trip to Spain [Place] and go loco for Poco.


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