There are definitely some Portuguese roots that spread beneath the Madeira Bar and Del Sol Restaurant. Owner Manny Ferriera took over the establishment, now a quarter of a century old, some 18 years ago. He hails from the island of Madeira, a Portuguese colony which lies 900km off the coast of Morocco.
A number of dishes for which Madeira is renowned also have Mediterranean influences, such as the peri-peri chicken, the numerous seafood dishes and the delicious steak trinchado, but this deep south-based restaurant and its menu actually have more of an Alberton or Bronhorstspruit 'dorp' feel and flavor. Just take note of the plastic tablecloths, the fact that the menu has no vegetarian options and, especially, the clientele. There might be a row of fancy cars parked outside but the patrons feel comfortable arriving in their t-shirts and slops.
"It's basically South African food, not specialist Portuguese cuisine," says manager, Richard. "We cater for the local crowd, but people do come here from as far away as Sandton." Access to Madiera is certainly easy enough, although it means a trek from the 'safe' north to the 'slightly risqué' south.
Contrary to some of the reviews floating around the web, Madiera is not, by any means, a rough establishment. It's a family restaurant through and through. Unless there's a big rugby game on the numerous screens and excitement, along with the testosterone levels of the 'manne', starts rising.
Madiera is a place to bring a big group of family or friends for a solid chow and a dop. You can sit at the bar, in one of the two wings of the restaurant, or in the courtyard. You can even gamble a bit in a tiny chamber out back if you feel the urge.
The Regents Park area is home to a mix of Portuguese folk, Engelsmanne, Afrikaners and the like, and the Madeira management has worked out, to a tee, how to keep all of them coming back. The service is warm, the beers are cold, the wholesome and fresh food arrives promptly and, when you put your wallet back into your shorts, it won't feel too light as you head for the door.
Where? 56 Winnie Street, Regents Park, Johannesburg Sout
When? Mondays to Saturdays: 12:00 - 21:00. Sundays: closed.
Tel: 011 4352477
by Derek Davey