Joseph Abboud’s Rumi, which relocated to East Brunswick Village last December after 17 years on Lygon Street, draws inspiration from around the Middle East. But its new neighbouring bar Rocket Society, which Joseph co-owns with wife Nat Abboud, is specifically inspired by 1960s Lebanon.
“There was a group of university students who had this big vision of joining the space race in the ’60s in Lebanon, so we’re sort of trying to draw on that era,” Joseph explains.
The group was called the Lebanese Rocket Society, and although its space exploration journey was short-lived, here its legacy lives on.
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The interiors feature mid-century-inspired red leather seating, chequerboard tiles and black-and-white photos of the original Rocket Society.
There are also bits of pieces the couple has gathered along the way. Wooden speakers from Berlin, made by a friend’s father in 1972, sit in the corner playing vinyl. And a communal table from the original Rumi – resurfaced and raised to stool height – spans the length of the bar.
Joseph says these additions reflect the story of the original Rocket Society, which was “a little bit handmade and patched together with whatever you could find”.
The food menu – available on weekdays until 4pm – is dominated by $8 sondwishe (flatbread sandwiches) labelled Cedar 1, 2, 3 and 4 after the four Lebanese rockets launched between 1962 and 1963. Joseph likens them to tacos – one’s a snack, two make a lunch (many customers order as they go, as you would at a taqueria).
Two are vegetarian – one stuffed with batata (fried potatoes), toum and pickles, and another with falafel, tahini, herbs and pickles. The other two feature minced lamb kafta or shredded chicken with bastourma (or pastirma).
The evening offering heroes the on-site charcoal grill, with barbeque lamb drizzled with carob molasses, sweetbread skewers and charry house-made flatbread (a fitting vehicle for red butter and chickpea-topped hummus or mussels al sikbaj (a medieval Persian predecessor of the Spanish escabeche, according to Abboud). You’ll also find fun snacks like an HSP croquette.
The wine list, developed by Steve Kimonides of Kanenas Wines and Slice Shop Pizza, features around 50 bottles from Australia, Lebanon, Morocco and Europe. By the glass, there’s a Labanese orange wine and a “Leb Nat” (Lebanese pét-nat), both made with indigenous Lebanese grapes.
Cocktails lean classic but tie into the aerial theme with takes on the Paper Plane and the Aviation, and a mezcal-spiked “Margarocket”. Non-alcs include the Life on Mars, with orange, lime and basil, and a sparkling yerba mate from Supermate.
2 Village Avenue, Brunswick East
Mon to Fri 11am–11pm