A cold weather haven

On a rainy, cold evening, what is better than a burger and a pint?

I haven’t found it, but luckily I have a neighborhood pub where I can always warm up, hang out and have that comforting dinner combo.

Since 1979, J.R. Bentley’s has been a cornerstone of college life in Arlington, and as a UTA alumna, I have spent my fair share of evenings in the smoky pub. Situated in downtown Arlington at 401 W. Abram St., the English pub had been a steady option for a night of beer and company.

Until it wasn’t.

A fire broke out in 2013, putting Bentley’s out of commission for almost two years.

When they reopened, they did so with a new, open floor plan – and a smoke-free atmosphere. I really like the new design. The bar area is much brighter, and it’s easy to maneuver around. I remember having some struggles getting from the back area to the restroom easily with the old floor plan.

On a dreary winter day, my friend and I wanted to duck out of the cold and enjoy a couple of drinks with our dinner.

We both are long-time Arlington residents, so we are no strangers to Bentley’s, but it had been a while since either of us had walked up the porch and into the 1920s refurbished house.

I got there earlier than my friend because I had time to kill and I wanted to enjoy a Guinness during that time. Sometimes, especially when it’s cold outside, I just want to savor a dark beer. I never want one frequently enough to justify buying a six pack but, man, a stout hits the spot when the weather is miserable.

One of my favorite things about Bentley’s is that as a woman sitting alone at the bar, I know I won’t get harassed and the bartender will be attentive but not pushy or nosy. I feel safe there, and that is a precious thing.

The redesigned J.R. Bentley’s still maintains the charm that made it a personal favorite hangout.

When my friend showed up 10 minutes later, I was already thoroughly enjoying my evening – and my beer.

During the many times I had been to Bentley’s over the past decade, I actually never had their food. My friend raved about the burgers, and though the Bangers and Mash (I ate the sausage dish a lot while I was studying abroad in England) sounded really good, I caved and got the burger.

If you follow my column, you might be seeing a pattern – I always cave for the burger.

I ordered The Big Ben, a burger with pulled pork, cheddar cheese and bbq sauce, and another Guinness. I drink the Irish stout maybe twice a year, where I enjoy it immensely then immediately forget about it the next day, but that burger sounded amazing with another Guinness.

And I was right. I do not regret my decision, though I will be coming back to try the Bangers and Mash.

My friend and I enjoyed our food while having a lively discussion about anything from B-Films to “Sailor Moon” while showing each other pictures of our cats (I foster for the Humane Society of North Texas, so I always have fresh kitten photos).

The employees are always attentive without being pushy. We sat at the bar, but we didn’t feel like we were on display for the bartender.

Pubs are something I wish were more prevalent in North Texas, but luckily, Arlington has a great one in J.R. Bentley’s.

And with looming miserable weather that almost always befalls us in February, it will be a haven for escaping the cold and getting a good beer that warms the body and soul.