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Modern Indian-Australian fusion dining experience opens on the Great Ocean Road

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

First came the accommodation, then the day spa and now the team at Sunnymead in Aireys Inlet have revealed the final piece of their coastal experience puzzle – their restaurant Santara.

This intimate, warm-hued space is tucked between reception and the guest rooms and invites diners to sample the fusion menu that takes subcontinent classics and gives them an overtly Australian twist.

To start why not try a traditional Indian snack, pani puri? A golden, hollow dough ball, that in this instance is filled with prawns, Yarra Valley caviar and a pop of yuzu to make the crunch and seafood really sing as it breaks open with a single bite.

Great Ocean Road Restaurant

Moving on to mains, your eyes do not deceive you when you read “King Oyster Mushroom and Vegemite Butter”. When they say “fusion” they really mean it, and this dish is silky, unctuous, salty and satisfying. You really ought to try it before you knock it.

The Chicken Ruby curry is tender, sweet and textured courtesy of the addition of pomegranate and the beef of the Sticky Shin Taco falls straight off the bone and into your mouth, just like it should because you simply must eat this dish with your fingers.

The absolute savoury standout for us though, is the Onion Bhaji. This side dish may seem simple, but it’s deceptively hard to execute well and Santara have nailed it. Perfectly sized and sliced, crispy and light and oh to have been a fly on the wall when Executive Chef Adam Cooke (we know right?) announced to the kitchen he was going to sprinkle chicken salt on it. Delicious!

Yes, you want to leave room for dessert, Indian spices line up against European classics, but the Chai Roasted Peaches is our pick, with cream ice cream and honey from local hive Apiary.

Nearby producers also feature heavily on the drinks menu, wines are well-priced by the bottle and the cocktail list is as playful as the food, with a nod to a secret nearby surf break created with neighbours Great Ocean Road Gin and an absolute belter by Chef Pratik who’s mashed up vodka, white rum, cucumber juice and garam masala.


By Springtime the Santara team plan to be trading 5 days a week, but for now, all are welcome to book dinner on Friday and Saturday nights – whether you’re staying at Sunnymead, exploring the Great Ocean Road or are lucky enough to call yourself a “local”.


Who: Santara
Modern, Indian-Australia fusion and fun cocktails
Sunnymead Hotel, Aireys Inlet
Open: Friday & Saturday for Dinner
More Info: Santara

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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