Normally we here at the Weekly like to give a new spot time settle in before we write it up, but the anticipation of the return of the Bearded Lady (300 S Main St, 817-349-9842) in South Main Village was just too much, what with all those intermittent Facebook updates and planned opening dates that came and went. My friends and I were eager to check it out and, inevitably, see how it compared to its beloved West Magnolia Avenue predecessor (henceforth known as “the Old Lady”).
It was clear upon arrival that the anticipation had been citywide. Word had spread about the Lady’s soft opening status (its official grand opening is Fri, Jul 12), and the expansive patio was full. This was partly because there were surprisingly few outdoor seating options –– a huge empty space still sits between the sidewalk entrance and the first group of picnic tables. They’ll be adding more seating as they figure out the best configuration. Unfortunately for us, the spacious interior was full, too. Not ready to give up on our reunion just yet, we opted to walk down to nearby Locust Cider to have a flight or pint while the dinner crowd finished up. An hour later, we were back at the Lady and snagged a prime spot outside.
Because the Bearded Lady isn’t technically open for another couple of weeks, my friends and I quickly forgave the 25-minute wait between first sitting down and having our order taken. Those kinds of things work themselves out. I was a tad disappointed, though, when our harried but affable server, who described herself as “stressed in a fun way,” told me the bar wasn’t serving liquor just yet. I quickly regrouped, settling for a Bishop Crackberry cider, served in the can.
My friends, more beer-savvy than my gluten-averse self, enjoyed the impressive list of offerings. Bearded Lady’s emphasis on local brews hasn’t changed from its earlier incarnation. Two of my lady friends couldn’t resist ordering Rahr’s saison farmhouse ale, Girls’ Night Out, which one friend dubbed her “new summer beer.” My adventurous hubby opted for a citrusy, refreshing honey-basil Hefeweizen from Garland’s Intrinsic Brewing.
I soon followed up my Bishop cider with another — this one a lemonade style — and daydreamed about reuniting with some of my old favorite Bearded Lady cocktails, like the Ginny Weasley (Acre gin, fresh lemon juice and mint, simple syrup, and soda) and the Mr. Pickles (Jameson mixed with horseradish and dill pickle juices), the latter of which had been a good hangover cure for my friends and me during brunch on the patio at the Old Lady. Our server assured me both would be available soon.
Venturing inside, one pal lamented that the homey feel of the former space, which had enjoyed the automatic charm that came with being housed inside a quaint bungalow, was not more adequately recreated in the industrial-feeling new locale. Uncomfortable-looking chairs seemed to be a theme. Even the booths had the look of an old church pew, with no cushioning. The throw pillows spread out along the window seat that traverses an entire wall inside the high-ceilinged space was reminiscent of the Old Lady’s comfy window seats but felt like an afterthought. We all agreed the interior could be any new-ish eatery in Fort Worth, its Edison bulbs and white walls evoking thoughts of HG Sply, Heim BBQ, and many others.
One thing that needed no time to reassert itself in our hearts and minds was the infamous L.U.S.T. Burger, which once graced the cover of Texas Monthly’s burger issue. My companion voraciously dug into hers upon its relatively speedy arrival at our table, reporting that it was as delicious as ever, its combination of poblano-and-feta-stuffed patty, melty gouda, avocado, and grilled onions a symphony of salty, spicy, fatty goodness.
Although my nostalgic gal pal was bummed that the down-home comfort of the Old Lady is gone forever (well, technically Magnolia Tree Tavern now occupies the space), I reminded her of the cramped confines of the bar at the Old Lady, which, while quaint, was impractical when it came to ordering a quick drink. The new bar, all concrete and metal, is at least twice the size.
“You’re right,” she conceded, taking another bite of L.U.S.T. burger. “Now there’s more to love.”
The Bearded Lady
300 S Main St, FW.