Thursday, June 6, 2013
How to Satisfy those Honky-Tonk Beer Munchies
Robert’s Western World
You ever notice how a good greasy meal at midnight doesn’t actually need to be good to be good?
You know what I’m talking about.
After a night of honky-tonkin’ up and down Nashville’s infamous Lower Broadway, fried shoe leather on a bun starts to look as good as Kate Upton losing a water balloon fight.
I’m pretty sure “beer munchies” derives from that same part of the brain as “beer goggles” -- only with milder next morning consequences.
I’d like to brag to you that Suit757 was in such a sudsy state of mind at midnight when I ordered my cheeseburger and onion rings from the hot plate in back of Robert’s Western World.
But that would be a lie.
I made this decision stone sober.
Scary enough. But this isn’t Suit757’s first rodeo. Or first visit to Lower Broad.
I’ve done this enough to know that Robert’s Western World is Nashville’s top oasis of real music in the creative wasteland that is “Music City.”
And the tiny flat top out back is one of the few places in town not named Waffle House to eat after the witching house.
Now, understand, nobody comes to Robert’s Western World to eat.
They come to drink beer, soak up the retro atmosphere and hear the best traditional country music in town.
Eating sometimes becomes a byproduct of the above. Which, I guess is why they put the little griddle back there in the first place.
After a long typical Suit757 day of driving across the breadth of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, I finally checked into my Comfort Inn at a quarter to midnight, checked out of my suit and headed down to that stretch of touristy honky-tonks in downtown Nashville.
Literally in the shadow of the famed Ryman Auditorium, home of the original Grand Ole Opry (until the corporate hacks moved it to the suburbs), a strip of decades old honky-tonks lines Lower Broadway.
If you are “in the know” like Suit757, you can bypass the annoying bouncers out front by cutting through the alley out back next to the Ryman. All the honky-tonks have back doors utilized by the locals.
Three doors down, Tootsies is famous as the place where Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline’s husband got drunk one night and wrote “Crazy”, the most played song in the history of the juke box.
On the other side is The Stage on Broadway, which sports an awesome mural of Merle Haggard hocking George Dickel Whiskey with a tag line that reads, “Water’s for teardrops, Dickel’s for drinking.”
But the live music these resurrected tourist traps feature is the typical cheesy pop country pabulum that passes these days for creativity in this town.
Some dude from Upstate New York awkwardly wearing a cowboy hat singing about tractors and honeysuckle and crap that appeals to 55 year old housewives.
If you are looking for REAL country music in the Country Music Capital of the World, Robert’s Western World is about the only place you can find it.
Every night, you’ll find a real deal talented band that always features pedal steel guitar and upright bass and singer with more talent than all the fake pretty boys this town produces in a year.
BR5-49 used to play here before hitting it big time -- or, at least as big as big time can get playing this genre of music.
The setting is as authentic as it gets.
A former Western wear apparel store, the shelves are still lined with cowboy boots for sale.
The bartenders and waitresses are dressed straight out of central casting from a 1950s hipster stage set. Lots of pink hair dye, mousse and tattoos.
I found a spot at the bar in the back right in front of the little griddle.
Being the only sober guy in the joint, I desperately ordered up a Yazoo Pale Ale, a nice hoppy local Nashville brew.
My second choice was less inspired.
Dos Perros, also brewed by Yazoo, is supposed to be a “Mexican style” beer.
Look, I like Mexicans as much as any other gringo.
Chimichangas and mole? Sure.
But I’m not sure Mexican-style beer is a genre that begs for replication.
It tasted like a Corona without the lime. No thanks.
While the Yazoos were $4.50 each, I was able to score a Miller High Life for less than half the price.
That’s a fraction of the cost of a similar quality beer at Tootsies. With a much better soundtrack.
The best thing I can say about the burger is it is cheap and quick.
This isn’t gourmet.
The grill man chisels a block off a stack of frozen burgers and tosses the hard disk onto the flat top.
The onion rings are frozen too, of course.
But the man knows what he’s doing.
He’s like the Michelangelo of frozen meat product.
In ten minutes, the previously frozen block of beef has been transformed into a juicy tender burger with just a trace of pink in the middle. Topped with lettuce, tomato and a slice of raw onion, I’ve had much worse burgers for double the price.
Best of all were all the jealous looks from all the inebriated tourists surrounding me at the bar struck with beer-munchie-envy.
“Dayyyymmmn! That looks goooood!”
Within moments the grill man went from sedately enjoying the talents of the band to being busier than an IRS agent at a Tea Party rally.
Suit757 the trend setter. That’s me. Always on the cutting edge.
Like I said, sometimes you don’t have to be good to be good.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.