Last summer, after being informed by some self-important neighborhood denizen that The Boiled Owl, where I tend bar, needed to serve food, I griped in print how American eating has evolved from a matter of biologically fueling up to a recreational pursuit. I still kind of feel that way. The manner in which self-styled gourmands and their suspiciously qualified palates lord it over anyone content to eat a burger that isn’t topped with caramelized Maui onions and a fried dodo egg makes me want to barf — especially, when they’re talking about food served at a bar. I mean, after all, food really boils down to a matter of preference, and so what if I’d just as soon pair some fancy drafts with a Whatamistake or a couple of 7-Eleven taquitos. If you’re out drinking and make it all the way to 2 a.m., who cares whether the eggs in your breakfast taco came from a local chicken? I sure don’t, and, anyway, if it’s late enough and you look pretty drunk, sometimes the 7-Eleven guy will just give you the taquitos. Oh, sure, they may have been on the roller for, like, five hours, but free snacks are free snacks.
Then again, I once ate a pizza out of the trash, so don’t listen to me. If you’re going to go to the trouble of elevating the drinking experience with high-end craft beer and artisanal cocktails, why not try to serve the best grub possible? Just because people like me will eat garbage after six or seven (or 10) beers doesn’t mean that’s all you should serve. All of which is to say, I’ve sorta gotten over my distaste for tasty food at bars.
I bring this up because I recently got a preview of The Bearded Lady, a forthcoming drinkery on the Near Southside expected to open by the end of the month. Co-owners Eric Clayton and Shannon Osbakken gave me a tour of their new joint, a craft draft drinker’s paradise housed in, uh, a house on the corner of West Magnolia and 7th avenues. This was a couple of weeks back, and the place still had a ways to go, but from what Clayton showed me, the Lady is going to be the kind of place that will leave beer nerds breathless. The tap wall alone will have 27 drafts –– all of them crafts, most of them local –– and the cooler will feature more than 100 different bottles. And lest the rest of the macrobrew-imbibing public dismiss the Lady’s beer menu as uppity and unwelcoming, the usual corn-and-millet football beers will be available in bottles.
Of course, none of those beers has to do with food, except for when they do –– The Bearded Lady’s other hallmark (besides a beard, obviously) is fancy pub grub, much of it made with beer. The bar will be open for lunch, and Clayton and Osbakken are committed to accommodating nine-to-fivers’ 30-minute breaks. Clayton’s main gig is selling real estate, but he spent time at Razzoo’s, Pappadeaux, and J. Gilligan’s, and Osbakken has been at J.R. Bentley’s for years, so neither is a stranger to the ins and outs of getting people in and out at lunch.
With an emphasis on quick ticket times, you’d think that the Lady would be heavy on chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks, but the fare is pretty interesting, especially for herbivores. You can get an avocado or cactus (!) stuffed with kalamata olives, mushrooms, and goat cheese, and the salad menu is robust. There’s also mac ’n’ cheese served in a bacon bowl, which is exactly what it sounds like. What’s more, The Bearded Lady will serve food all the way to 2 a.m. — a first for a Magnolia bar. I’m not saying I’m gonna give up my plebian late-night drive-thru excursions in favor of fancier feasts, but it’s nice to have options. –– Steve Steward
The Bearded Lady
1229 7th Av, FW. 817-938-2713.
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