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Twin Cities' next great cheeseburger is at new Blaine brewery

The burger: The Tipsy Steer, the food counter inside Invictus Brewing Co., is really doing everything right, burger-wise. Scrutinizing each detail to the nth degree is an important strategy when the burger — in this instance, a double-patty cheeseburger — is built with just a few key components. There’s no room for error, right? At this nine-month-old operation, it’s basically bun, beef and cheese, and they co-exist in near-perfect harmony, magically melding together with each steaming-hot bite.

The beef hails from Revier Cattle Co. in Olivia, Minn., a premium producer that turns out a noticeably premium product. The ground beef, seasoned only with salt and pepper, is formed into wide, relatively thin patties — it’s a substantial amount of meat — and cooked, in its own considerable juices, on a hot flat top stove.

Why two patties, instead of one? Do the math. “Two patties means four cooking surfaces,” said operating manager Heidi Hrudka. “There’s more char on four surfaces than two, and that makes for a more flavorful burger.” It does, indeed.

The bun — soft, golden, with a hint of sweetness — is baked at Mainstreet Bakery in Edina. The cheese is aged Cheddar, and plenty of it.

When it comes to garnishes, restraint is the word that applies. I barely noticed the swipe of mayo that’s teased with a hint of truffle. Pickle chips, crunchy and nicely vinegary, create a more lasting impression. Lettuce and tomato are available, free of charge. “But it’s a great burger on its own, without anything on it,” said Hrudka. Agreed. This is a keep-it-simple burger, definitely.

Besides, the kitchen lays it on thick with a half-dozen other burger options ($13 to $13.50), everything from a blend of pimento cheese, olive tapenade and roasted red peppers to a pile-on of Gorgonzola, aged Cheddar, caramelized onions and bacon. There’s also a turkey burger on cranberry-walnut bread, and the meatless patty of choice is from the first-rate Impossible Burger folks. The kitchen’s top-selling version is, naturally, the double-patty cheeseburger, with a twist: the addition ($2) of thick-cut bacon, from Thielen Meats in Little Falls, Minn.

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving this trend of finding first-rate burgers at taprooms. It's the whole burger-and-a-beer thing, right? Find others at Surly Brewing Co in Minneapolis, Birch’s Lowertown in St. Paul and Wooden Hill Brewing Co. in Edina.

Price: $11, a great value.

Fries: Included. Lightly crispy, and cut thicker than average, they cover all the requisite deep-fried bases. They’re a commercially made product. “We started out making our own,” said Hrudka. “But we’re so busy that we couldn’t keep up, and storage was a problem. We’re hoping to go back to making our own, someday.”

Beer recommendation: “I would say the Avenger, their IPA,” said Hrudka. “It’s a pretty easy-drinking beer, as far as IPAs go.”

Where she burgers: “That’s a tough one, because when you’re doing burgers on your own menu, you do a lot of research,” said Hrudka. “We were at Red Cow two nights ago, that’s a spot where we definitely like to go when we get out of Blaine.”

Address book: 2025 105th Av. NE., Blaine. Open 4 to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at

South Minneapolis bakery known for its wall of classic Easy-Bake Ovens closes

Sorry to report that the year-old Lucky Oven Bakery has closed.

A sign on the door reads, “To our beloved customers: We are sad to announce that we have had to close our doors. We have loved serving this community and we are grateful to have been a part of this great neighborhood. Thank you for being a Lucky Oven customer! It has been our pleasure to serve you!”

Owner Kristy Dirk opened her bakery-cafe at 5401 Penn Av. S. in Minneapolis in late November 2017, funneling the experience she gleaned from her work at the Salty Tart – and the neighboring Red Wagon Pizza – to create a breakfast-lunch setup with a well-stocked bakery counter. (Regulars are undoubtedly missing Dirk's exceptional ham-Gruyere rolls, corned beef sandwiches, packs-a-punch brownies and other imaginative, well-made specialties). 

As child, Dirk kept her Easy-Bake Oven very, very busy, and she cleverly channeled that happy memory into a memorable and much-photographed social media image: a colorful wall of 50-plus Easy-Bake Ovens.

Dirk did not return a request for a comment. A “For Rent” sign hangs in the window.

Another bakery closure: Cocoa & Fig has pulled the plug on its Edina location (6807 York Av. S.).

Owners Laurie and Joe Lin are staying busy. The couple has recently purchased Edelweiss Bakery, the 14-year-old people magnet in downtown Prior Lake. The southwest suburban city is familiar territory for the Lins. Laurie Lin is a Prior Lake native, and the Lins started their bakery and catering operation at the Prior Lake Farmers Market. The downtown Minneapolis location of Cocoa & Fig remains open.

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