The long, winding road to Danny's Rusty Nail Restaurant isn't the greatest sign in the world. A long, dusty side road that seems to wind into the great unknown. And at night, it's even darker, the mist rising off the trees. A true Road to Perdition.
However, the initial signs of being lost in the bush a la Wolf Creek are set aside when we come across the dimly lit shed christened the Rusty Nail. A true mishmash of every Australiana facet known to man, this country-themed eatery smacks of the old country spirit of dust, dirt, mud, old dogs and beer belt buckles.
Speaking of beer belt buckles, the first thing that strikes us as we wander into the cavernous space is the wondrous confusion of objects and paraphernalia.
And that feeling remains for the rest of the night. If Danny decided not to set up a restaurant, he surely could have turned this place into a Warracknabeal museum.
Danny, a lifelong Warracknabeal resident, used to be a demolition contractor, and was charged with taking and selling people's things when they had died, moved out, or otherwise. Over the years, he has collected SO many odds and ends that he thought the idea of a odds-and-ends restaurant could be the trick. Seven years on, his idea has reaped rewards in spades.
But, for many people, a main reason to visit a restaurant is to eat. And so, onto the food. Typical Australian countryside fare, with just a small twist per dish to please the out-of-towners. A lovely artichoke and leek soup starts off proceedings, boasting a lovely, rich, smooth consistency that is perfect for the cold night we were there (keep that in mind: if visiting in winter, bring a coat. He doesn't have much in terms of heating). The other standout was the oysters kilpatrick: a prosaic choice by anyone's standards, but Danny really takes it to the next level. A plate full of the biggest oysters I've seen in my life, topped by not bacon bits, but by large cuts of bacon. The plate came up about 15 cm high, piled with oysters and bacon. He probably used three of four rashers on the one plate. And to top it off, a thick BBQ spicy sauce. Intense, and could be a meal in itself. Super tasty.
In between your food, feel free to wander around Danny's cavernous restaurant, taking in the memorabilia of Warracknabeal. A giant oak table adorns the middle of the room, dating from the original town hall. Beer belt buckles form a kind of belt around the top of the room. Pictures, hundreds of years old, showcase the history of the town. And to add to this sense of wonderment, ask Danny if you can see the other dining room. Yes, there's another one. The roof of this room is actually held up by tree trunks from around the premises. Truly original.
The service is good, and Danny has found his calling as a manager. He chats, he whistles, and he makes you feel right at home. And this is why this place works so well: apart from the insanely eclectic surroundings, it feels like you've returned home. Warm, comfy, good food, and good regional hospitality. That's what this place is all about, and I salute them for it.