Ima Bistro (57 Fort Street, CBD, Ph: 09 – 300 7252) evokes one of those enviable home kitchen/dining spaces. The shelves are laden with cookbooks, the murals on the wall are homely and inviting, the chefs are in full view, separated only by a low counter.
Ima (Hebrew word for ‘mother’) is the labour of love of owner and chef Yael Shochat. Yael greets her customers like friends, and serves them honest, hearty and totally delicious traditional Israeli/Mediterranean food. Ima is my kind of bistro; the serving staff are amiable, and the atmosphere is relaxing.
The vegetarian mezze ($26) serves up plenty of Middle Eastern delights for four.
The chicken liver pate ($12) is made in a traditional Jewish style, on grilled brioche with pickled Israeli cucumber and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. This was fantastic, – my Jewish friend says its the real deal, and even my pate-hating friend actually enjoyed this.
Lebanese lamb shoulder ($28) is a succulent slow braised lamb shoulder served on Ebly (Ebly® is roasted wheat ‘rice’ and has a nutty flavour) cooked together with nuts and fried onions and served with a fresh Arabic salad
The Moroccan chicken ($28) consists of a boned chicken leg stuffed with hand-made couscous, pine nuts, dried fruit and spices, and served on chickpeas with roasted vegetables.
For the Fish of the Day ($31), you get two pan-fried fillets of the freshest fish, served on citrusy Israeli couscous pearls with pistachios and a crisp herby salad.
The Middle Eastern dessert concerto ($14) opens with delectable cigar filo pastries filled with Turkish delight and chopped pistachios, the soaring middle movement is a glorious mhalbi (orange blossom-scented milk custard) topped with a quince & red wine reduction, then finishing with basbusa (an Egyptian semolina cake). What a fantastic way to end a meal.
57 Fort Street
Ph: 09 – 300 7252
Breakfast, Mon- Fri: 7am – 12pm
Lunch, Mon- Fri: 12 – 2pm
Dinner, Tues – Sat: 6 – 10pm