Expectations were high for Alma, the former Hip Group restaurant quietly moved into the hands of long-time manager Natasha Parkinson. 

Inspired by the foods of southern Spain, Alma followed a string of successes for Hip Group’s Jackie Grant, best known for Amano. 

BusinessDesk is dining during a quiet weekday lunchtime, with the dining room half full and one patron dining at the bar. 

We are far from the hustle and bustle of Amano, just around the corner at Auckland’s Britomart but clearly a world away. 

Alma’s fit-out is relaxed and makes lovely use of Andalusian tiled colour and contrast. Its wide-ranging windows allow for plenty of people-spotting across Quay Street and Britomart. 


Our server is prompt, pleasant and full of good recommendations. 

He’s not an extra-mile kind of guy, but restaurant owners can be forgiven for that at present given the current workforce settings.  

We start with a twist on ceviche ($26), a firm white fish with all the trimmings, including wads of avocado. Don’t worry about the chilli; you can barely taste it.

This is a huge starter, and don’t be fooled by the avocado – there is plenty of raw fish underneath. 

Unfortunately, the time between the ceviche and the next plate of food is about 40 minutes – our server doesn’t say anything about timing but must be aware of our hunger because about 20 minutes after the fish, he plonks a plate of bread on our table.

It's devoured as we eagerly await our mains.  

We are told the harissa chicken ($38) is one of the most underrated dishes on the menu. Our server is right – the chicken thigh is cooked perfectly, with the smoking on the grill adding extra flavour.  

The pinchitos ($34), or next-level pork skewers, are divine. The wood fire makes all the difference here. Both the pork and flatbread are charred to perfection. The pear salsa is a perfect complement. 


The hero dish is the crayfish tail with samphire butter ($120). We are told we have ordered the last one!

This is a real treat. There is plenty of scampi available in Auckland’s restaurants, but lobster in a bun or smeared on toast is just not as tantalising as a fat wad of lobster tail, which at Alma is firm but manages to pull apart easily, with no mess.

The samphire (seaweed) butter is pleasant and, fortunately, not overpowering, allowing the crayfish to shine.

Alma has an emphasis on all-day dining but don’t expect to be quickly in and out – this is a lazy long-lunch affair.

Menu: Sharing menu, with dishes ranging in price from $6 (single oyster) to $120 (crayfish tail).
Corner of Gore & Tyler Streets, Britomart, Auckland.
alma.nz, phone (09) 242-1570. 
Hours: 11am to late, 7 days. 
First two hours' parking free in the Britomart Carpark with a dining receipt of $50.