Like its namesake, the exotic saffron flower. Kesari has two colours: the violet hue of modern ‘soulfood’ for breakfast and lunch and the glow of saffron at night when its Indian-infused menu is on offer.
After building a bar and undertaking a quick renovation to the venue, in March 2022 co-owner and manager Sunil ‘Sunny’ Jangra (ex-Meraki, Chirn Park) and his wife Neelam opened Kesari in one of the Gold Coast’s most secret locations opposite the Coomera River at Santa Barbara.
The décor tells us that this is a modern Indian venue, as though the exotic has landed on a riverside patch of the Gold Coast. And indeed it has.
Dine at Kesari and you will get a true Indian welcome from Sunny, whose smile befits his name.
It’s also sunny in aspect, as on most days you can dine on the verandah and look across the road to the boat ramp and meandering river.
By day, there’s a ‘soulfood’ menu of great wholesome food, with a touch of indulgence if you choose. There are lots of vegan and gluten-free options, yet the menu is firmly geared towards mainstream diners with its tasty produce-driven food and attentive service.
Breakfast comprises bowls, stacks and egg-centric dishes. Homemade Banana-Date Pancakes are definitely the stars of the breakfast menu. They are so soft and fluffy that we’re surprised to learn that they are also gluten-free. Topped with strawberries and caramelized banana, crunchy grain-free granola and seasonal fruit topped with beams of light cinnamon Coyo ice cream and a moreish date caramel sauce I could almost share them. Almost! They are ably backed up by Shakshuka, Chicken waffles smothered in maple syrup, Breakfast tacos and other favourites.
Some breakfast options continue through to lunch, where burgers, bowls, juices and smoothies reign supreme. Açai bowls carry the layered goodness of fresh fruit, nuts and coconut. Burgers are packed with the flavour of a real Angus beef patty, bacon, caramelized onion and house-made chipotle slaw and greens on a sweet brioche bun. The burgers are accompanied by your choice of lattice fries or salad, a most difficult choice as the fries are addictively crisp and delicious.
Feeling relaxed? Then a signature Aҫai cocktail might be just the thing for you. It tastes so good that it must be very good for us indeed!
As the sun descends, Chef Sanjay enters the kitchen and the other colours of Kesari emerge as the saffron-infused Indian cuisine from Sunil’s homeland takes over.
With a menu of mostly Indian classics done very well, a few Indo-Chinese fusion diversions shows the chef’s willingness to venture away from tradition to maximise flavour.
It’s rich curry rather than hot, fragrant with its abundance of spices, ginger and garlic. This is the food we love, our entrées comprising a fusion dish of Garlic prawns, followed by traditional Chicken Tikka, fragrant and delicious, with Cheesy garlic naan as starters.
They are followed by succulent curries: a rich Chicken tikka masala that’s even more delicious as leftovers, a small Vegetable biryani, and the star of the evening, Bhoona lamb. Chunks of tender lamb are bathed in a rich curry sauce punctuated with slivers of fresh ginger and coriander leaves. It’s the best lamb curry we’ve tasted in ages, so we sop up the curry with our naan bread, not willing to waste a drop.
It’s a feast of flavours that we can’t finish, leaving the delight of takeaway curry that tastes even better the day after it has been made.
Kesari is licensed, with corkage for BYO wine priced at $6pp. While we are usually enthusiastic about BYO, with a bottle of Yarran Shiraz priced at $25.90 when we visit, there’s little incentive to bring a less-than-extraordinary wine. You can enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets, but with such flavoursome food, a shiraz such as Yarran is robust enough to stand up to the food. There are also very reasonable Pinot Gris and Chardonnay listed on the wine menu at very reasonable prices.
Sunny is a seasoned restaurateur backed up by two talented teams of chefs, one each for day and night. With food that everyone can enjoy and great service to match in a casual environment, Kesari is a great addition to the Northern Gold Coast dining scene.
It takes passion, soul and creativity to achieve a successful two-pronged menu, as well as the willingness to step outside the square. Kesari’s success at doing that is as rare as saffron. We’ve got to love that!
Kesari Infused Indian Cuisine, 7 Pinnaroo St., Hope Island, QLD Ph: 07 5510 9767 Mob: 0479 190 908
Open: Wed – Sun 7am – 1.30pm, 5pm – 9pm; Mon 5pm – 9pm; Closed Tuesday
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Kesari Infused Indian Cuisine.