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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