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IMA

[Pictures: Todd Eyre]

Be prepared to leave full. “Ima” means “mother” in Hebrew, and owner Yael Shochat – ever the good Jewish mama – likes to feed her patrons well. She came to Auckland a decade ago from Israel via Britain, and started the Lunchbox, which became Ima, on Shortland Street. There, her shakshuka – spicy slow-cooked tomatoes with merguez sausage and a poached egg – was a revelation.

Now Ima is on Fort Street, an intimate, old-fashioned space. There are wooden tables and cook books; it has an open kitchen. It does a cracking lunch trade, great mezze and drinks in the late afernoon and then it transforms for dinner into the sort of low-key, candlelit bistro Aucklanders have come to like so much. It is one of the great undiscovered dinner spots of Auckland.

It is homely, rustic, robust cooking from all over the Mediterranean; Shochat and her team make most of it from scratch. We like the brikk, a North African pastry with tuna, preserved lemon and egg – you cut it open and the yolk spills out, and the tuna is all lemony. The mezze platter ($25) is enormous, and changes constantly: the roasted cauliflower, with whole florets of cauliflower, is a standout. We’re most fond of the slow-cooked Lebanese lamb shoulder ($26), fragrant with spices, served with ebly and pine nuts with an Arabic salad. Dessert? We can’t go past the homemade ice cream ($12) – the salted caramel especially. SFG

HOURS Monday to Friday, lunch from 11.30am. Tuesday to Saturday, dinner from 5.30pm.

ADDRESS 57 Fort Street, City, ph 300-7252. www.imacuisine.co.nz

IMPORTANT DETAILS Now open Saturday nights for dinner – just make sure you book.

4 Comments

  1. Rebecca wrote:

    Fantastic.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  2. Jenny wrote:

    This place is a gem – we love it. Your website is brilliant but can you look at flagging whether restaurants take bookings?

    Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  3. SFG wrote:

    Thanks Jenny. We usually assume that most places take bookings and flag it when they don’t – but thanks for the reminder.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  4. Brendon wrote:

    Went there for a birthday dinner. We had hoped to try the lamb shoulder but were far too full after sharing the fantastic mezze platter and a bottle of wine between the two of us.

    It was a quiet night so we nibbled on the platter for about two hours, the waiter knew exactly when we wanted anything and was happy to leave us to it.

    Highly recommend the Knafeh for something completely different. The goat mozzarella (they make it themselves) provides a slight muskiness that noses its way through the sweetness; the contrast in textures between the chewy mozzarella, the crisp pastry and the syrup is fantastic.

    Will definitely return to try the lamb (and the rest).

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

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