Highlights include Sri Lankan egg hoppers, dosas, mouth-watering curries and a gin-focused bar.
Transforming the front of the iconic Collins Quarter building in the CBD, well-known Melbourne businessman Ian Hicks and restaurant entrepreneur Dr Sam Prince, founders of the Sam Prince Hospitality Group (SPHG), have launched their newest restaurant INDU Melbourne, a delectable mix of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian village culture, flavours and hospitality.
Serving up an unforgettable feast for the senses, INDU is dark and aromatic, with a menu inspired by the coast and villages, using fresh and seasonal produce to create wholesome and fresh plates with plenty of seafood and vegetarian options on offer.
There’s a selection of dosas and hoppers, fresh local seafood, homey village plates, curries and meats from the grill and more. Menu highlights include Amma’s daal and Thilaka’s potato curry, as well as smoked Yarra Valley goat’s leg dosa, egg hopper, albacore tuna croquette, eggplant moju, Mount Mercer pork belly curry and the signature ‘Great Lamb Raan’.
“INDU is a nod to my heritage and a place that is reminiscent of home and being welcomed into someone’s home especially like in the villages of Sri Lanka. There are dishes on the menu that are my mother’s recipes including the Amma’s daal and potato curry as well as dishes that are inspired by my childhood or I have discovered through my travels. It’s really exciting to finally bring this to Melbourne,” says SPHG founder Dr Sam Prince.
Gin is the hero on the drinks list, with a selection of signature gin and tonics complementing the food, with gin favourites on show in gin and tonic flights where the best tipple of the month shines bright. A small but solid wine list stands tall with aromatic and textural varieties featured from Fiano, Grüner Veltliner to Pinot Noir and spicy Grenache blends.
A place where the music is just as important and the food, INDU sets the tone with a playlist of late 60s and early 70s music inspired by The Beatles’ travels through India and after their time spent in transcendental meditation training, mixed in with other sounds of the era including tunes from Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Doors and more.
The entry lounge bar that greets guests is the perfect destination for drinks or a pre-dinner gin and tonic. There are dining seats featured along the purpose-built window looking directly into the kitchen that wraps around bar and into the main dining room, offering a peek into all the action. Separated by soft linen curtains, five private booths with cushioned banquette seating line the wall parallel to the kitchen bar in the dining room and two exposed circular booths are featured next to the main dining space. Large terracotta pots overflowing with spices and dried chillies are dotted throughout the restaurant, filling the senses with smells of a faraway place.
Some of the best talent has come together to transform the bones of the old Collins Quarter building including designer Gabriella Libertini. Melbourne artist Ash Keating has taken over the walls with his signature fire extinguisher painting-style features throughout the main dining space and private dining room in shades of orange and light forest. Leading the way inside, a large green, gold and black mural by Apparition Media, and reminiscent of India and Sri Lanka, covers the front corridor.
Stripped floorboards pave the way upstairs to INDU’s private dining room with an exposed brick wall featuring the original stained-glass windows, which is a nod to the building’s heritage, and bookended with the same fire extinguisher-style artwork by Ash Keating that has been carried from the downstairs to up. An oversized timber dining table handcrafted by Melbourne-based furniture maker Leslie Jones also sits front and centre.
“Sam and I opened INDU in Sydney in 2015, and we’re so excited to share this new experience with Melburnians. When you step into INDU you forget what’s on the outside and find yourself immersed in a whole new place that’s just magical,” adds SPHG co-founder and Melburnian Ian Hicks.
Seductively aromatic, INDU welcomes guests for lunch and dinner from 12 to late on Monday to Friday and for dinner from 5pm to late on Saturday. INDU is located at 86a Collins Street, Melbourne and bookings are available online via https://indudining.com.au/melbourne or via phone at (03) 9671 4376.
86a Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9671 4376
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Images: Arianna Leggiero