M: Hola! Ellen! It’s been so long. How are you. Ah look at your hair! It’s grown. Don't look at mine, see the scarf! Come in, come in!

H: It’s been too long! It’s so lovely to be back in the courtyard, back at Maria’s!

Then, where there would have been hugs, we stand awkwardly - two meters apart.

Emma appears from the kitchen, and we’re all talking at once. It’s different but it’s wonderful. The restaurant is freshly painted with arrows in and arrows out. The tables have been moved back and the statutory Perspex screen is nailed in place. Like all businesses At Maria’s has had to adapt.

At Maria’s is now a takeaway, it’s tables are outside in the castle’s courtyard nestled amongst the plants stalls. Apart from the constant telephone call orders, it’s very peaceful.



M: It is so good to be cooking again. To be back with the customers. I miss the customers! I spent too long at home. I start talking to the wall. Then the wall started answering back. Then it stopped and I knew I needed to get back to cooking!

H: It’s been very strange. Quite scary at times…

M: Yes, yes. But we are not living if we live in fear, that’s not living.

The phone rings again, Emma calls from the restaurant about a large Tapas take-away order.

H: Wow, it never stops here!

M: We have to keep busy! We have to be adaptable, you can’t have Tapas here on a Friday night. We make it for you. You have a tapas party in the luxury of your own home. Take Maria home with you! Hahahaha!

H: Imagine!

Maria heads back to the kitchen where she’s in the middle of making Spanish tortilla with potatoes and Emma is wielding a very sharp knife. They cook, chop and mix whilst I snap away on my camera and we put the world of home-schooling to rights and compare missing our families.



It doesn’t take long for the lunch-time ‘picnic’ dishes to be ready for visitors to take away and enjoy in the beautiful gardens. There are several ‘picnic’ options I really fancy the Greek Platter: Stuffed vine leaves, humous, (Spanish) Greek salad, olives, fried mushrooms and freshly made bread, mmmmmmmm.




Then Emma starts on the evening Tapas take-away dishes, she’s making glazed chicken wing with mushrooms, they smell divine, I wish this was a smelly-blog so you could share the aromas.



Pop back next time and I’ll have the recipe for you, or if you can’t wait, you can order your Friday/Saturday night Tapas take-away by phoning the restaurant on: 01437 751346. The menu varies every week and there’s a wide range of dishes and sides as well as sweets and drinks, just a telephone call away!

Choose from

Pork skewer in pepper and spice sauce

Cod in a Spanish cider sauce

Chicken breast and peppers in a rich tomato sauce

Patatas with peppers, garlic and onions

Spanish tortilla

Pork and beef meatballs.

Dishes start at £6.50.


Back in the kitchen, cooking, is where I am happy!

We are opening again! So excited, busy hunting down PPE for staff, take-away containers for food and a million other things.


Tapas will be available to order on Friday and Saturday evenings. Orders and payment will be taken over the phone.


01437 751346.




Now that the beautiful gardens at Picton Castle are re-opening we will also have a lunch-time menu available for take aways and picnics in the gardens.



Really looking forward to welcoming you back to At Maria's.






It's that strawberry time of year again. Are you picking your own? Growing your own? Or just eating this delicious soft fruit.


Here's a quick, simple, refreshing idea for a strawberry themed desert, featured in our book, Tapas At Maria's.



How to spend a wonderfully warm spring summer evening: bottle of beautiful (sweet), chilled and very glamorous Lola, add a few wild strawberries and recline!

Lola available for sale at At Maria's.





Words/photographs/illustrations© 2019 Helen  Lewis