Building the tastier burger

COSTA MESA — There's been a number of times in chef Charlie Palmer's life where a restaurant was not referred to by its name, but by it's "damn good burger."

And that's always been his aim.

Palmer's newest gourmet food concept, "DG Burger," which abbreviates the "damn good" phrase, opened Tuesday morning in Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza to a waiting line of hungry eaters.

"The concept is very simple," said Palmer, owner of more than a dozen restaurants nationwide. "It's all about ingredients and what makes a better burger."

People began lining up outside at 10 a.m. for the 11:30 a.m. grand opening. The first 300 customers received a free burger, normally priced starting at about $8.

"A lot of burgers that are considered gourmet just tack on the price," said Lake Forest resident Jeff Reitz, who arrived at 10:30 a.m. for the free burger. It was his first time at a Charlie Palmer's. "The picture makes it look good, but I guess we'll see."

It was to be awhile. The line for a free burger stretched around the outside of the department store.

Featuring an uncomplicated menu of burgers, skewers, sausage and salads, the DG concept was designed to appeal to the Orange County shopper, Palmer said.

"This is our foray into a more accessible group," Palmer said. "The menu is moderately priced and has something for all walks of life."

And with the holiday shopping season about to begin, the casual restaurant located in the Bloomingdale's Hallway could soon become a popular lunch spot.

"He's got a good product in the rest of the country," Newport Beach resident Gary Elder said while waiting in line. "I'm sure this will be just as good."

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