Review: Yak Italian Kitchen and Bar, Melbourne

Fresh off the success of a launch event held in Melbourne for work, some colleagues and I were wandering the mean streets of Melbourne, hoping to find a place that would take six hungry individuals with no booking on a busy Thursday night. Our first choice, MoVida was a complete no go – the waiter nearly laughed in my face when I asked if they had room for us! Despondent, we wandered up Flinders Lane until we found Yak Italian Kitchen and Bar on the corner of Russell Street.

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The staff here were wonderful – they welcomed us in, and Alex the bartender got straight into mixing up a few cocktails for us to enjoy at the bar while we waited for a table – which really, took no more than fifteen minutes. Having written the cocktail  menu himself, he was very happy to steer us towards his personal favourites. Believe me when I say more than few cocktails were had that night!

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“Vinsigrassi”, Traditional lasagne from the Marche region. Handmade pasta sheets layered with a rich beef ragu, $26.80

While the lasagna ordered by one colleague looked less than appetising, she assured us all that the sauce was wonderfully rich and flavoursome, soaking into the lasagna sheets and creating a burst of flavour every time she chewed.

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Special of the day – some sort of a seafood pasta!

Another colleague chose the pasta special of the day, which featured a simple zucchini and tomato based sauce, with clams and mussels as the stars of the dish. The salty rich seafood flavours created a fantastic broth, and she actually found herself slurping up the broth once she had finished the pasta!

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Tagliolini with braised Gippsland rabbit, Ligurian olives, white wine and thyme, $26.80

This was a very popular choice on the night with more than a few of us choosing to try the rabbit tagliolini. The meat was superbly tender and flavourful, and had clearly been stewing in a slow cooker soaking up flavours for house. The pasta too was done al dente, which is how I prefer it as I think it lends more to the quality and freshness of homemade pasta.

Overall, I rate Yak Italian Kitchen and Bar a 7 out of 10 – the cocktails were expertly crafted, and the handmade pasta superb. There was unfortunately one mixup with one main meal came out twenty minutes after everyone else’s but the staff were very apologetic and took the cost of that meal off the bill to make amends. Sometimes I think that the best way to judge excellent service is really to see how staff handle complaints or situations like that.

Unfortunately, I notice that Yak’s website and Facebook page are no longer active, which makes me think that it may have closed down between when we visited (early December) and now. Can any full-time Melbournians confirm this? If so, it’s a real shame because the pasta was of an excellent quality, and it’s rare to be able to find quality Italian food in the Melbourne CBD without having to trek out to Lygon Street.

3 thoughts on “Review: Yak Italian Kitchen and Bar, Melbourne”

  1. Those pasta dishes look really, really good. I’ve walked past Yak a million times but never been in. I’ll have to change that – I can’t stand lining up at these super-popular trendy no-bookings restaurants that seem to be all over Melbourne, I’d much rather a friendly welcome like the one you got at Yak!

    (I really hope it’s still open).

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