Not rusty at all
Seemingly out of nowhere, there is a brand new brewpub in Nanoose, just seconds off the Highway exit at Northwest Bay Road. We’d never heard of Rusted Rake before but locals have noted that there used to be something at that location and they are happy to see it back. We we pretty happy too, after a great lunch and terrific beers.
Rusted Rake Brewing is a family-run “farm to tap” operation, meaning in theory that the barley they use to make their beer comes from right there at the farm. They also say that they are fierce “locavores” (a term we thought for sure they made up, but no) meaning they use only local ingredients, if possible. Neat.
We decided to check it out for lunch, just days after they opened. On our visit, we were seated outside at a covered picnic bench. The pub also has ample covered patio seating and a breezy indoor area, all of which were comfortably cool on this hot summer day. Our seat was directly beside one of the fields, giving us an expansive view of lush grass while we ate.
Naturally, being a brewpub, we we excited to try the Rusted Rake’s beers, but were slightly disappointed to learn that not all of their first batches were quite ready for ordering. So instead of ordering a flight we ordered a pint each of their Hazy and their IPA. We were pleasantly surprised by both. The Hazy was more fruity than hoppy, as we prefer it. There was a hint of grapefruit, and a smooth, quick finish, which led to more drinking. Nice. The IPA was also not particularly hoppy (surprisingly) and was quite a bit more bitter than expected (almost like an ESB). There was a extremely short finish on this beer. It was enough of an intriguing curiosity that we would order it again. Overall we enjoyed our brews enough that we were a bit sad to learn they hadn’t yet got their cans ready for off sales.
The food menu was varied and had everything from burgers to sushi to falafels. For lunch, we were feeling pub-ish so it was the Brewhouse Burger for her and the Brisket Dip for him. Both came out in reasonably short order and were served with fries. (Salad was an option we ignored.)
The Rusted Rake had already impressed us with its beautiful surroundings and its delicious and interesting beer, but the food was a real winner. The Brewhouse Burger (pictured above) was exceptional. This thing had everything on it, but we were particularly delighted by the four cheeses and the crispy fried onion and pepper bits. Yowza this was a good burger.
The Brisket Dip was also something special. A toasted sesame peasant roll held a generous portion of beef. The brisket had clearly been slow cooked and had both the soft and smoky parts, and the chewy and savoury outside bits. It also had a few of those crispy red peppers mixed in which just took the flavour to an eleven. The au jus was great but one almost wouldn’t care because the sandwich on its own was so mouthwateringly good.
All that being said, we found the fries served to be unremarkable. Considering how good the mains were, the lightly salted shoestring-style fries seemed almost like an afterthought.
Service during our visit was good. We were promptly greeted and seated, and our server was pleasant though not particularly conversational. Considering Rusted Rake had only been open a few days at this point, we were impressed at how smoothly the operation as a whole appeared to be running, especially with how popular it was becoming.
Our meal, including two pints of beer and a modest tip was $73. We consider this pretty steep for lunch for two, but when adjusting for the beautiful locale and the excellent taste of the food and drinks, we think it’s ok value.
From moment one at Rusted Rake, we were impressed. We’re particularly excited to try more of their beers and we would definitely return for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch(!) if we were passing Nanoose. There’s a great menu with plenty to try and we want to eat and drink it all. Rusted Rake is great now – and you should go check them out – but even more we think they have the potential to be a real destination eatery. Think Crow and Gate. We’re excited to see what they’ve got in store for the future!