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Burger Friday: Digby's Burgers-Pizza-Beer

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Restaurant reviews Updated: April 25, 2014 - 5:23 PM

The burger: Even though it has been in the mainstream for a few years, adding a fried egg to the list of socially acceptable burger garnishes is a practice that we can all enthusiastically endorse.

It has certainly been embraced at the new Digby’s Burgers-Pizza-Beer in Rosedale, where a fried egg is the centerpiece of what owner Michael Larson dubs his Kitchen Burger. It’s a tasty – and messy --- touch. The runny yolk seeps everywhere, boosting the patty's juiciness, and it also plays well against the spicy kick of a Sriracha-based hot sauce.

The thick patty is an 80/20 chuck/sirloin grind, generously seasoned and cooked to order (two options: “pink” or “no pink”). Along with that egg (I loved how the browned egg white added a subtle flavor boost to the proceedings), the patty is topped with a slim, agreeably melty slice of Cheddar and a few mild pickled pepper slices. A lettuce leaf feels as if it's about color other than anything else. A soft bun (from Denny’s 5th Avenue Bakery), generously buttered and lightly toasted, its gleaming top studded with bits of savory browned onion, pulls it all together. Nicely done.

Price: $11.99.

Fries: Included, and terrific. They’re long, skinny and lightly golden, with a barely crispy exterior and plenty of salt.

Why Rosedale?: “I drive by it all the time,” said Larson, who also owns Eat Shop Kitchen & Bar in Plymouth. “I live in Orono, my parents live in White Bear Lake, and when I'm driving on Highway 36 I couldn't help but notice the amount of people in the parking lot, all the activity and the action."

That there's a decided lack of locally-owned dining options didn't hurt.

"Other than Flame, Rosedale is chain-restaurant hell," said Larson. "That's not to say that there aren’t good chains. Big Bowl, for one. Rosedale gets 12 million visitors a year, it’s its own little city. What's missing is pizza, there's nothing good in the immediate area. And when I say 'nearby,' I mean the mall. I love burgers. I wanted to take a pizza joint and a burger joint and smack them together. It’s risky, because everyone knows what a perfect burger is, and none of those opinions are wrong. I wanted to show what my idea of a perfect burger is.”

Eye-grabbing touch:  Larson commissioned a dining room mural from Minneapolis artist Adam Turman, and it certainly helps wipe away the memory of the space's former tenant, a California Pizza Kitchen outlet. Butcher & the Boar fans will recognize Turman's work, and Larson fell for the artist's distinctive style at 612Brew. Turman incorporated Digby's three menu tentpoles -- burgers, pizza and beer -- into his composition, and also tossed in subtle visual nods to Larson's children. The results are a hit with diners, said Larson. "It's amazing the number of people who see it and say, 'We collect Adam's work,'" he said.

Who is Digby? “It was my neighbor’s dog’s name,” said Larson with a laugh. “It was a cute little thing, and it hit me that it would be a decent restaurant name.”

Address book: 854 Rosedale Center #1010 (on the mall's exterior, near the AMC Theatres), 651-330-8619. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at rick.nelson@startribune.com.

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