On honky-tonkin’ Broadway in Nashville, most food and music options are celebrity-endorsed megaplexes. These multi-story attractions sport professionally consulted menus with dishes ripped from chain steakhouses. Not Robert’s, which is a relic of old Nashville. It’s a worn-in boot shop that was rescued and turned into a safe place for fans of the music that made originally Nashville famous.
Let us be perfectly honest: This place is not a strictly for-the-food destination; it’s more about music and late-night honky-tonk mayhem. But the eating is worthwhile.
The fried bologna sandwich — basically a BLT in which the “B” is a fryer-kissed stack of lunch meat — is worth a visit even if you don’t like country music. We’d even get one to-go if we absolutely couldn’t stay for more than a few songs. Because the sandwich has become a point of pride for the bar, they take a lot of care in the basic elements. The white bread is buttery and grilled gold, the lettuce and tomato are fresh, and the bologna is just the right size to soften the crisp of the veggies and salt the sandwich.
The must order “meal” is called the Recession Special. That includes the signature fried bologna sandwich, a bag of Lays potato chips, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a chocolate Moon Pie. This lunchbox comes for less than what a flat draught beer would cost anywhere else on the Broadway strip. We think of it as a balanced meal for the slightly unbalanced. On hungry (and thirsty) nights, we order two specials per person.
If bologna-phobes are searching for something else to try, the burgers are fairly good, but they are not in the same league as the pink stuff. For a side, we recommend the deep-fried dill pickle spears. The breaded pickles aren’t amazing in themselves, but when they are matched with the fattiness of the fried bologna sandwich, the salty, tangy combination harmonizes. The comforts of this combination of sour pickle and salty bologna matches the old-school (pre-digital) country music emanating from the stage.