Poquito: A little bit of what you fancy
- Photos by Sarah
Poquito has opened near the Te Papa end of Tory Street, in the sweet spot where Shoc Chocolate and then Ciocco Chocolaterie used to be. It’s an all-day espresso bar that morphs into a tapas bar at night.
Translating from Spanish as ‘a little bit’, Poquito is an apt name. For a starter, there’s only a little bit of elbow room. The only space to swing a cat (should you feel inclined) is down the far end, under a graceful arched window that looks out on to a little bit of nothing but is the room’s most striking feature. With flickering candles and the music just right, this is the kind of tight corner that Wellington’s best bars are made of.
Poquito is owned and operated by Mike Hay, whose last post was at Caffe L’affare. The equally esteemed Matterhorn has relinquished a bar manager, Peter Race, and even if you weren’t to know his pedigree you may well guess it. Poquito p.m. has the unmistakable air of a serious cocktail bar, with an impressive line up of exotic spirits and a list boasting such inventions as the Rhubarb 75 with rhubarb-infused vodka, and Monkey Business which swings with fig-flavoured whisky. Other cocktails feature more home-formulated, flavoured spirits: a walnut–bourbon bevvy is coming soon.
Concise wine and beer lists will also tickle the fancy of the curious. Alongside a handful of esteemed NZ drops (Akarua, Mahi, Lake Hayes) are a couple of Riojas, a jolly good port from Portugal and a sherry from Jerez in Spain. The eleven-strong beer list counts off nine Kiwi craft beers including Croucher Pilsner, Mussel Inn Golden Goose, and Stoke IPA on tap.
In fashionable style, tapas are the order of the evening – a snappy selection of six plates, ranging from the obligatory mixed olives, to a staple salad of chickpeas and chorizo. But by gum they’re good. Washed down by my two test cocktails was a platter of bread & dips (delicious, especially the vividly crimson beetroot creation) and a dashing herd of devils on horseback: salty, streaky bacon around a sweet, squidgy date. I could eat these for breakfast. I bet they’d be good crammed into a baguette…
It could happen. Poquito opens at the crack of dawn to crank out L’affare espresso alongside a little bit of day-time food such as sandwiches and salads, and avocado on toast declared by regulars Kirsty and Bree to be ‘simple, but generous and amazing value’. Owner Mike says that in such a small enterprise, simplicity is going to be key, and it seems that so far he’s the bang on the money. ‘What they do they do well,’ confirmed Kirsty. ‘And it’s an easy place to be in.’
It’s easy to be outside too, by the look of it. Spilling on to the pavement last night was an assembly of smokers and associated socialisers, looking so low-key and content that you just know passersby are going to want to poke their nose in. They should. Wellington hospitality has a strong record of serving up exciting little surprises. Poquito is definitely one of them.
Poquito, 11 Tory Street; open daily till around 11pm/midnight