Imagine the thrill when not only was the Bearded Lady in Fort Worth included in Texas Monthly’s list of the 50 Best Burgers in Texas, but its so-called signature burger was also the cover model. In the August 2016 issue, the gastropub’s L.U.S.T. burger had been anointed as the third best burger in the entire Lone Star State.
Here’s what TM had to say about it.
Where does lust begin? At the first glimpse of this lascivious creation, or upon sinking your teeth into it? Its half-pound hand-formed patty clocks in at 78-percent-lean Prime Angus chuck and comes studded with chopped roasted poblano and feta. Measuring three quarters of an inch thick, it’s topped with melted Gouda cheese, avocado, and caramelized onion tendrils. Extras come alongside: a fluffy green lettuce leaf; a sweet, firm tomato slice; and a spicy house-made sour pickle or two. L.U.S.T. is especially enjoyable if accompanied by a brew on tap—the twenties-era cottage and patio are home to the most popular craft beer bar in town.
During a recent visit to Fort Worth, I stopped into the Magnolia Avenue gastropub with a friend and sat outside on a shared picnic table — not because of the cover-story treatment but because we were starved and the place seemed cool. (In fact, as a TM subscriber, I had a copy of the best burgers issue sitting on a nightstand, but hadn’t gotten to it yet, so I didn’t know about the restaurant’s “fame.”)
It was Saturday evening, so the place was crowded. That’s why we let it fly when it took 15 minutes for a server to take our drink order. And why it was weird but no biggie when the same server returned 15 minutes later to tell me that they were out of the beer I had ordered.
When she came back ten minutes later with a half-pint of beer instead of a full pint – the keg had apparently blown – I began to think that this place didn’t have its stuff together. At all.
On cue, the two diners who sat at the other end of the picnic table inquired about their food, which they had apparently ordered some 40 minutes before.
“We were in Texas Monthly and so we’ve been slammed,” said the server. “It’s a small kitchen.”
I couldn’t hear what the diners said, but their body language indicated that an “uh, okay” was probably spoken.
“What I can do,” said the server, “is comp a round of beers for the kitchen, just to let them know they’re appreciated. They’re really working hard.”
I had seen that gonzo item on the menu when we first arrived and thought it was a joke. It read:
Round of Beers for the Kitchen $15
Treat your cooks to some tasty brews.
What the shit?
Basically, here’s this small kitchen, right, that’s crazy struggling to crank out orders to a restaurant that isn’t all that big to begin with. You, the diner, have waited 30, 45, possibly even 60 minutes for the food to be plopped at the table.
But Texas Monthly, the “National Magazine of Texas,” said this joint is awesome! How about we toast these slowpokes with a $15 round of brewskis!? Because taking the time to drink beer instead of chopping onions and flipping burgers is going to make the food come out that much quicker!
We had some questions for The Bearded Lady, so we called them up and spoke to an employee, who said that she would pass our contact information to a manager. We haven’t heard back; we’ll be sure to update this post if we do.
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By the way, here’s what ended up happening.
After the server brought over the half-pint of blown-keg beer, she took our food order. I got the L.U.S.T. burger. (Again, not knowing that it was magazine-worthy.) The food came. We ate the food. We got the check. We paid the bill. We walked out.
We looked back to see how our dining companions were doing. Their main courses still hadn’t arrived. It had easily been more than an hour.
And, awful service aside, the L.U.S.T. burger wasn’t even all that good.