The Bearded Lady has been open on Fort Worth’s Magnolia Avenue for three years, quenching thirsts in the Near Southside with craft beers and a crafty menu, all in a Craftsman bungalow (officially on Seventh Avenue, but this place is totally Magnolia, especially with its people-watching patio).
Clearly I’m not that bright, though: I hadn’t been until last week, when a friend introduced me to what may be the city’s best burger — “bar” none.
Amid a menu that really, really speaks to me with its keen attention to intermingling ingredients, not to mention stellar sauces — grilled cheese with prosciutto and roasted pistachio pesto, anyone? How about an orange honey-butter chicken biscuit with a fried green tomato? — you’ll find the Bearded L.U.S.T Burger ($12), a behemoth that is at once artful, “taste-full” and, can I say, magical?
The burger: The gastropub bills its food as “Southern Comfort Pub Grub,” so it’s hardly a surprise that burgers play a central role on the menu. Recent Burgers of the Week at Bearded Lady have included the Chimichanga (a jalapeño and cheese chimichanga on top of a patty with salsa verde) and the Salisbury Steak (a beef patty topped with green onion cheddar-bacon mashed potatoes, sauteed leeks and mushrooms, and brown gravy). By comparison, the L.U.S.T. looks tame.
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The patty: A half-pound and hand-formed, it was cooked perfectly to my medium specification. Flecked with feta and stuffed with diced poblano peppers, the patty had an uncommon texture, spice, heft and creaminess.
The bun: A buttery, glistening brioche roll proved up to the task of absorbing the meat’s juices. Slightly toasted, with a subtle crunch, but not so much that it veered into patty-melt territory.
The toppings: An example of the thoughtfulness that is emblematic of the food at Bearded Lady, the L.U.S.T.’s toppings were distributed carefully, with sliced avocado topping melted, gooey Gouda. Then, under the patty, were slivers of sauteed onions. The result was revelatory in bite: With the onions on the bottom, it’s as if your taste buds are enveloped by the burger’s intensely savory notes.
Lettuce, tomato and three house-made pickle slices come on the side. I ate the pickles and ignored the other two; they seemed superfluous and, if added, would have lent a near-comical thickness to the burger.
The sides: Next to this glorious creation, the thick-cut fries looked utterly boring. My genius friend ordered the fried leek rings, which are similar to onion rings but constitute slight onion slivers encased in crispy, beer-battered craziness. The house-made ketchup, bright and acidic, was great, but the tangy pink sauce served with the rings was a better foil for everything on the table.
The verdict: I am thinking about: A) moving near Magnolia to eat this burger every day B) increasing my cardio just so I can eat this burger every day and C) leaving my husband for this masterpiece.