SOUTHAMPTON is gunning for the title of city of culture in 2025.

But if being dragged around an art gallery kicking and screaming isn’t your idea of fun, you can take solace in the fact that food is also culture.

It begs the question, what’s on the menu?

Little Alex Homemade is a Brazilian and Portuguese Restaurant in the St Mary’s ward of the city.

Daily Echo: Little Alex, SouthamptonLittle Alex, Southampton

Driving past on one of my daily adventures the bright colours of the sign outside caught my eye.

It's owned and managed by husband-and-wife team, Sérgio and Alessiane Oliveira, from Minas Gerais in Brazil.

Daily Echo: Sérgio and Alessiane Sérgio and Alessiane

They started out with a stall at the Above Bar Street market then moved to their current site towards the end of last year.

As a crime and court reporter, my lunchtimes involve raiding the Lidl bakery then inhaling a croissant while mulling over an afternoon of cases.

Eating out in an actual restaurant feels like a genuine treat.

Daily Echo: The restaurant.The restaurant.

Sérgio, 46, told me that he and Alessiane have each worked in kitchens for more than twenty years.

Their eatery on St Mary Street is named after their four-year-old son, Alex - they also share a 15-year-old daughter.

There’s an intimate indoor dining space, draped with Brazilian flags.

And outside, a large seating area with a small stage for performances.

Daily Echo: Outdoor seating at Little Alex, SouthamptonOutdoor seating at Little Alex, Southampton

Little Alex was forced to close as lockdown measures came into place around Christmas.

Offering meals made from scratch, it survived running a delivery service and then reopened in May as restrictions eased.

Sérgio says there are thousands of Portuguese and Brazilian people in Southampton with many working at the hospitals.

My knowledge of the language is non-existent but luckily the menu has English translations.

Indecisive at the best of times and incredibly scatty, I asked for a mix of dishes.

To start I was served croquettes, pastries and salad. Chicken, cheese and fish.

Daily Echo: A selection of croquettes and cheese bread.A selection of croquettes and cheese bread.

My favourite was the pão de queijo - cheese bread - it’s like a dough ball but in South America can be made with cassava or maize flour.

I'm greedy but low maintenance. Mind-blowing, simply put.

I had to eat ‘strategically’ as not to fill up too quickly.

For mains, I had a mixed grill made up of steak, Brazilian sausage and chicken wings.

Daily Echo: Brazilian mixed grillBrazilian mixed grill

I generally don’t trust pudding with fruit and consider it too healthy.

However, I went for açaí ice cream. It’s described as the “magical berry from the tropics” and often touted as a super-food.

It was topped with banana and strawberries. It made me happy.

Daily Echo: Açaí ice creamAçaí ice cream

The national drink is a cocktail called caipirinha - derived from sugarcane, you could call it Brazilian rum - you drink it with smashed ice and lime ideally on the beaches of Copacabana or De Ipanema.

From experience it’s good but I went for the non-alcoholic version which is subtle and refreshing.

And despite being made of sugarcane, is reportedly full of nutrients.

Daily Echo: Brazilian sugarcane juiceBrazilian sugarcane juice

Ultimately, with beans, rice and meat a staple of the Brazilian diet the food could be described as hearty and substantial.

You won’t go hungry.

Sérgio, Alessiane and all the staff were all incredibly friendly and attentive.

Amid all the covid chaos, job cuts, and firms closing it’s great to see a family run business growing.

Sérgio’s dream is for a carnival similar to Rio or Notting Hill, however, in Southampton.

Finally, if you enjoy culture beyond shovelling food into your mouth, Little Alex hosts live music events.

There is an upcoming performance featuring traditional Brazilian artists on Sunday, August 15.

For more information, visit the Little Alex Facebook page.

#Southampton2025 #cityofculture2025 #Southampton