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 school Middle Eastern recipes served with modern flair. All the dishes are designed to be shared – with friends, family, and perhaps a bottle of wine from Italy, Spain, Greece (basically, anywhere touched by the Arabic world).
Split between grazing plates, items from the grill, and desserts, on first reading the menu sounds comforting and familiar. However, Joseph and Ari’s years of experience in Melbourne’s outstanding dining scene shine through in the elevated versions of favourites, like the Lamb Iskender. The traditional elements of yoghurt and fresh tomato on pide are paired with surprisingly tender strips of grilled lamb heart. Other reinvented standouts include the Fish taratoor, served with light and salty crisps and zesty pickled grapes, as well as the buttery, morish Saffron pilaf, generously topped with the crispy bit from the bottom of the pan that everyone fights for!
The best thing about sharing your meal is that there’s always room for a dessert…or two. It’s all too easy to be tempted by the Pineapple sorbet with arak and basil, and the flaky Pistachio baklava perfectly balanced by tangy, sheep’s yoghurt ice cream. However, the star in our book is the Mamool – soft biscuits filled with warm goat’s feta, fig, and sesame jam.
As the evenings cool down, Bar Saracen provides a welcoming oasis on Melbourne’s foodie scene.
- Bar Saracen opens Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday for dinner only.
22 Punch Lane
Phone: 03 8639 0265
**Additional Information & Images Courtesy of Bar Saracen.
**Celeste is a regular writer for Gourmet News and was a guest of Bar Saracen – this is an independent account of her dining experience.
Bar Saracen Media release (including menu): The Australia Times News –
The Australia Times News
Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events
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