If anyone has treated Melbourne to a modern taste of the Middle East, it's Joseph Abboud — first with iconic Lygon Street restaurant Rumi and then with the non-traditional pizza offerings of his two Moor's Head outposts.
And now there's even more Middle Eastern magic to experience — but this time a little more refined. Abboud has opened Bar Saracen on Punch Lane with his Moor's Head front-of-house star, Ari Vlassopoulos.
Keeping it in the extended family, the kitchen here's being headed up by Rumi alum Tom Sarafian, who's nudging Middle Eastern flavours into a more contemporary place across a menu of mezze plates, barbecue dishes, mains and sweets. To match, there's a drinks offering that might just keep you on your toes. Expect lots of local drops, backed up by a range of wines from across Greece, Spain, Southern Italy, Lebanon, Turkey and wherever else Arabians have left their mark.
Some hard yakka by the boys themselves has transformed the space once home to Rosa's Kitchen into the setting for this culinary project, complete with bar seating, comfy banquettes and room for just over 50 diners.
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