By Celeste Iuliano In a cosy room down Punch Lane, Joseph Abboud (Rumi, the Moor’s Head) and Ari Vlassopoulos (ex Pei Modern, Hellenic Republic) are serving up mezze with a twist, at  the new Bar Saracen. The tone is set with a photo of Lawrence of Arabia tacked to the menu board outside; expect old … Read more


A Taste of the Middle East – Bar Saracen Opens in Melbourne CBD


Bar Saracen is the creation of Joseph Abboud, who owns and runs Lygon street institution Rumi, and Moor’s Head restaurants, together with Front of House pro, Ari Vlassopoulous. They have recruited Tom Sarafian to head the kitchen. Tom has been working with Joseph at Rumi for the past three years and his CV includes Mo Mo in Melbourne and St Johns and Moro in London, amongst others.

Saracen is a word, initially meaning anyone from the Middle East, but then during the Crusades it came to mean an Arab from the Middle East. Ironically, the Arabs didn’t know they were being called Saracen.

With Joseph’s heritage from Lebanon and Ari’s from Greece, they both liked the word and its meaning, and settled on this as the name of their first joint venture.

For the menu, Joseph and Tom began dabbling in more refined Middle Eastern dishes at Rumi and will evolve these ideas at Bar Saracen, including a range of mezze, barbecue and larger dishes, and sweets. In time there will be a tasting menu available.


In creating their new restaurant and transforming the space that was once Rosa’s Kitchen, Joseph and Ari have been busy knocking down walls – Joe is good with a hammer while Ari is better with a brush, painting the place with whatever was in his parent’s garage.

Bar Saracen is now a fifty-odd seat restaurant with banquettes, a private table, a bar that can seat eight, and window tables with stools to watch the passing parade.

A couple of beers on tap, others in in bottles and cans; wine is a short list of Australian and imported wines, with the imported varieties coming from wherever Arabs have been: Spain, Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and more, with a few pleasant surprises thrown in.

Bar Saracen opens Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday for dinner only.

Joseph and Ari suggest people drop in for a drink and a snack, a quick meal before the theatre, or stay for the tasting menu or more if they want.


Bar Saracen

22 Punch Lane

Melbourne 3000

Phone: 03 8639 0265


Instagram @barsaracen

Information and Images Courtesy of Bar SaracenJoseph Abboud


Connie Lambeth

The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

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New Middle Eastern themed menu  launched recently at  Melbourne’s Trunk Restaurant & Bar…


275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

The new Middle Eastern themed menu at Melbourne’s Trunk Restaurant and Bar is going down a treat with Melbourne food lovers, with founding owner, Nick Kutcher, predicting this ancient cuisine as about to have a renaissance.

“It’s clear Middle Eastern food is picking up momentum in 2017. International chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, visited Australia this year, and there was a lot of interest around his use of Middle Eastern flavours – it really pushed the cuisine into the spotlight. Places like Tulum are further putting the spotlight on Middle Eastern food.”

“Modern day Middle Eastern food is inspired by so many different countries – it’s incredibly diverse and many people might not realise this. Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, and Israel, all play a part in the kaleidoscope of flavours found in Middle Eastern food.”

“It’s been a fascinating cuisine to explore at Trunk Restaurant and Bar. The colourful Persian jewelled rice, served with pistachio crusted chicken is such a pretty dish; it’s definitely one of my favourite additions,” said Kutcher.

Trunk_Pistaccio Chicken 1 (1)

Other highlights from the Middle Eastern menu include tuna tartare with sashimi grade tuna, burghul, pomegranate, taramasalata, quail egg, and crisps; Bastilla with confit duck, dates, walnuts, cinnamon, radicchio and beetroot salad; and char grilled octopus with merguez, smoked paprika, potatoes, peppers and walnuts.

Trunk_Tuna Nicoise (1)

For dessert, try the highly Instragrammable Arabian Pavlova, a rosewater meringue piled high with pistachio semifreddo, halva, Turkish delight, and berries.

For a more casual offering, Trunk Diner – located adjacent to Trunk Restaurant – serves American-style breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks 7 days a week from a stand-alone kitchen and bar. Trunk Diner seats 60.

And it’s not all about the food; guests from the restaurant, bar and diner spill out into the CBD’s biggest outdoor beer garden – Trunk Beer Garden – with 14 tap beers, 30 speciality cocktails, and more than 100 different wines on offer.

Kick off the night with an indulgent Espresso Martini, with 5 creations, including the Ferrero Rocher (Frangelico, Wyborowa vodka, cold-drip coffee, choc-hazelnut wafer, chocolate floss) and the Salted Caramel, (house-infused caramel vodka, Kahlua, caramel, cold-drip coffee, chocolate pretzel rim). For a Middle Eastern twist, try the Rose Martini (Melbourne Gin Company gin, grapefruit, lemon, eau de rose, and pistachio crumb).

Trunk_Espresso Martini (1)

A private dining option is also available at Trunk’s Rintel Room – an intimate event space hosting up to 60 guests. The Restaurant and Bar, Diner, Beer Garden, or the entire venue can be reserved for events.

Restaurant and Bar: Open every day 12.00pm until late

Trunk Diner and Trunk Beer Garden: Open weekdays 7.30am until late; Weekends 8.00am until late


Ph: 03 9663 7994



Instagram @trunktown


Information & Images Courtesy of Trunk/Kate & Co – Hayley Edwards

Connie Lambeth – The Australia Times Gourmet News – Food/Wine/Events/Hospitality

Follow us on Instagram @tatgourmetmag

Read on to check out the back story of Trunk…

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