Ima & Orleans @ Auckland

December 10, 2016

Ima is Hebrew for 'mother,' & Tel Aviv-born Yael Shochat has certainly created a place that feels nurturing - you can go completely vegetarian here & still enjoy a comfortingly nourishing meal that reflects Israel & the rest of the Middle East - chickpeas, potatoes, eggplant & tahini with side helpings of rice with pine nuts & pistachios; grilled carrots with feta cheese; sauteed spinach with sesame seeds; tomatoes with beetroot, radish & red onions; & a slaw of cabbage & cucumber with mint.

Melding soul food with soul music, Orleans will have you longing, come what may, to go back to Blue Bayou - kale-&-jalapeno hush puppies with lemon & buttermilk; classic gumbo crammed with fried chicken, freshly steamed mussels & Andouille sausage; & fried green tomatoes with bruised baby tomatoes, charred peppers & remoulade (so good, the tomatoes recall that celluloid scene where Jessica Tandy gleefully bites into the ones that Kathy Bates hands her).