Portswood isn’t really the sort of place where you’d expect to find a taste of Mexico. However, tucked away at the far end of this little area in Southampton is a restaurant which offers authentic Mexican food, made entirely on the premises. Think of it as a little bit of Latin America on your doorstep.
Having been in Southampton for over three years, and never going to La Baronia despite many recommendations, I thought it was about time that I ventured out and tried it for myself.
Upon arrival, La Baronia was incredibly quiet, with only one other table being occupied. However, this was not off-putting, but gave the restaurant a calm and comfortable quality. The lighting was dimmed, which did make reading the menu a little tricky for those of us without perfect eyesight, but this enhanced the cosy feel of the room. With the weather outside being miserable, it was a welcome retreat, and the warm interior was sure to complement the food. The décor was not tacky and overly stereotypically Mexican, but subtle, with warm earthy colours – it certainly did not feel as though we were sat near Portswood high-street.
Unfortunately, when we chose to eat at La Baronia, the service was lacking a little. There appeared to be only one waitress attending all customers and working on the bar, which was not a problem when we were the only ones eating, but proved very difficult when the restaurant had filled up around an hour later. It did leave us feeling a little ignored as we payed for our food at the end of our meal. However, we weren’t kept waiting for our food upon ordering, and were given plenty of time to make our choices. We did not feel rushed when we were checked upon mid-meal, and felt very welcome – the restaurant is certainly relaxed and a nice change from the hustle and bustle of other restaurants. Overall, service may improve at peak time when more staff are available, but this was a little disappointing. It did not, however, ruin our experience.
Quality of food/drink: 9/10
I have eaten a fair bit of Mexican food, and am a frequent customer at the Wahaca restaurant chain. However, I was really impressed with the food at La Baronia, and had a hard time deciding what to have. I eventually opted for the vegetarian Burrito, which was bigger than I expected and proved to be a good choice. Burritos are my favourite, and this one wasn’t too spicy and had lots of delicious fillings, such as refried beans, soured cream and cheese, all of which were very tasty. My friends ordered the spicy chicken enchiladas, which were spicier than my burrito but looked and smelled delicious. The website proudly states that all food is made on the premises, which was clear through the presentation and quality of the food. I didn’t have a desert myself, as my meal was filling enough on its own – but I did sample my friends chocolate and coffee pudding with tequila cream– it was rich and sumptuous, definitely perfect for those with a sweet tooth. The variety of cocktails and drinks on offer were appealing, and though I did not experience one this time I will be sure to try some on my next visit.
Value for money: 7/10
The quality of the food was very good, but the prices were higher than I expected. La Baronia seems like a great place to go for a special occasion, or if you are being treated by visiting friends or family. However, I personally selected my meal on the basis that it was one of the cheaper options, with other dishes being priced as high as £15 – not the most suitable price for a student budget. Starters appeared to be mostly around £5.75, and deserts were similar. The price was high, but after finishing our meals, we agreed that it was worth it. La Baronia is a lovely restaurant, but may not be your first choice when your student loan is dwindling.
My evening at La Baronia was pleasant and the food lived up to my expectations. Despite the slightly disappointing service and the high prices, I enjoyed my meal and I will most definitely back again. La Baronia makes a nice change from all of the chain restaurants that can be found in Southampton, and the quality of the food and the atmosphere is a testament to independent eateries. It is a warm and cosy venue, perfect for meals with close friends, birthdays, or even a romantic date, and though it seems to really fill up past 7pm, it is still inviting and pleasant out of peak time.
Final score: 8 ½ /10
Menu available HERE
29 Portswood Rd
Tel: 023 8067 7444