You know the score by now; I get wind of a new eatery opening in my hometown and I just have to register my interest 😉 . I’ve a friend who is a DJ at the Alma de Cuba in Liverpool (another restaurant of the same chain) and I loved all the videos he posted on social media of the exciting Latin parties at the weekend. Cuban food and Latin dancing sounded right up my street, so I just had to go!
There were limited spaces for the opening night, so I was thrilled to secure a free ticket. I was lucky to get another ticket from a friend, so I invited Chris, who I’ve known since pre-school. We always have a great laugh together so I knew that the evening would be fun!!
We handed our tickets to the door staff, were given a complimentary welcome drink, a Cosmopolitan, poured from the impressive cocktail fountain and took in the atmosphere as the place began filling with people. By now, I have a knack for spotting fellow bloggers, and sure enough, I briefly spoke to a fashion blogger and was busy taking photos of the venue.
Soon enough, our welcome drinks were finished and we ordered a couple of pints of Mahou lager, which isn’t that common here. You can’t beat Spanish lager! Despite it being very busy, the bar staff were quick and attentive. I got chatting to Michelle who came to the bar to get a drink for her & a friend. I mentioned, in conversation, that I dance salsa, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show her some of the basic steps!
There was a really nice ambience to the place and the decor looked pretty on point. The place is spread across 3 floors, with the ground floor being the main dining area and clubbing areas on the 2 upper floors. The striking thing about the ground floor was how open and airy it felt, even when it was full of people. It’s a really nice place to be!
By this point, things were getting pretty busy, and then the band started playing! They were awesome and really helped to kick-start the night. We realised we’d been there a while and there was no indication that we were being fed soon, to Chris spoke to one of the staff who said we needed to reserve a table. I wish we’d have been told that sooner. Chris reserved a table.
Fortunately, we nabbed a few of the food samples that were being given out, including nachos with guacamole and delicious calamari! The calamari was cooked to perfection, flavoursome and with a crunchy batter; not rubbery in the slightest. We were eager to eat and, thankfully, our table was ready.
We shared a table with my friend Sarah, from my salsa class, Michelle and her friend. Sarah had already eaten, but the rest of us were very hungry by that point! Chris and I ordered a load of tapas to share, as did Michelle & her friend. It didn’t take long before our order was taken and we couldn’t wait to try some South American-inspired fare.
Oh my goodness, the food! There was plenty of it, and it all tasted so good. When ordering tapas, I think it’s compulsory to order patatas bravas, but I wasn’t expecting a mountain of it. Still, each cube of potato was crunchy and well-seasoned: perfect! The chorizo in red wine was flavourful, if a little chewy. Then there were the nachos: tortilla chips covered in melted Manchego cheese, guacamole, black beans and salsa. They were as tasty as they sound and incredibly messy to eat! After my little sampler earlier on, I just had to order the calamari which I pretty much had all to myself. The smokey chicken skewers were good but nothing particularly exciting and paled in comparison to the other dishes. The pulled pork tacos, served in soft corn tacos, were fresh tasting, but would have been nice if there were 4 per serving rather than 3. I was hoping to have churros for pudding but, after all that food, we weren’t hungry and Chris had to go home to his family. We settled the bill, noticing the prices were average, and out came the samba dancing girls!
The samba dancers were so much fun and brought nearly everyone to their feet, including me! They started a huge conga going around the room, so of course I had to join in.
I decided to explore and went up to the 1st floor where there was general club and Latin music, got the girls a couple of cocktails & myself another Mahou and danced until the early hours.
For someone like me who loves Latin music & culture, I absolutely loved this place. It’s certainly not a place to go for a quiet drink or a chilled date on a weekend evening. It seems to offer everything need in a night out partying. I mean, there’s awesome food, samba dancers and music pumping until the early hours. If you like Latin dancing, then you’ll love it here. It’s exactly what Southampton has been lacking and I can’t wait to return!
Date of visit: 07/09/2018
123 Above Bar St
023 8235 2217