Good Portuguese cuisine is simple, delicious, founded on traditional recipes and full of tantalising morsels from the surf and the turf. Great Portuguese cuisine goes one step further: it warms your heart, flashes a smile across your face, brings back memories and makes you feel like you're sat around the dining table at home.
When she arrived in Cardiff in 2007 (after a few years of study in Oxford), Laura da Silva missed the feeling of great Portuguese food. After searching high and low for a culinary home-from-home that would satisfy her yearning for food cooked how only Maria (her mum) knew how, she made a copy of her mum's recipe book and decided to open her own place near Victoria Park named, naturally, after her mum: Mãe Maria.
The result is a taverna-inspired bar, deli and restaurant on Cowbridge road that feels like it's been plucked straight from a locals' side-street in Porto. On Saturday evenings, the red wine flows and live music washes over a crowd of friendly Canton locals; in the mornings the air is alive with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee, lightly baked bites and the restocking of the deli fridge; come the late afternoon, low-key tables start to fill and a hubbub of conversation breaks out between mouthfuls of simply cooked Bachalau Dourado, Bitoque or Lombo de Porco (lightly seasoned and served, naturally, with hand-cut Portuguese fries).
The clean, spacious interior gives you ample space to relax (even when full, Mae Maria rarely feels busy), and the service is always attentive (waiters often talk diners through their meals after delivering the plates, especially if Portuguese specialities or house favourites are involved). To top it off, the food is made like the business is run - with love and understatement (and, of course, with ample servings of carbs and protein) - so a meal at Mae Maria is enough to make everybody feel like a genuine house guest of Laura.
Nice place. A bit too cold to get comfortable. Lovely calamares.
The food was nice, definitely worth the money with a Wriggle discount. Felt very authentic too, so it was something a little bit different.
Atmosphere was very quiet - but food was very good!
Looks like a nice menu. They also had interesting looking cakes