The Counter Palo Alto -- still a work in progress?
I took my 17 year-old son for my 2nd visit to the Counter on California Avenue. The format for the restaurant is interesting and has been described on this site before: short version ... you build your own burger choosing generously from multiple cheeses, toppings, buns etc. http://www.thecounterburger.com/order...
Last trip the burger was good, everything else was so-so. This time vice versa. Most of the problems I had last time seemed to be addressed. There was a host stand right at the entrance and seating was quick and efficient. The fries which were mediocre last time were much improved and 1 portion was more than enough for 2 people. Service was fine, but I agree with a previous post -- I counted 9 servers working at 3pm in this small place and a couple of manager types, but it seemed like alot of them were just talking to each other or friends instead of helping out with the customers by refilling drinks for example. That's a vibe that really bothers me in restaurants
The disappointment this trip was the burger. All burgers are cooked "medium" unless you specify otherwise. My kid's "medium" burger was at minimum medium well/well done, and my "medium rare" burger had only a faint touch of pink if that.
All that aside, the place was packed at 3pm on a holiday monday afternoon. It would be nice if they could get their act totally together because the area desperately needs a decent burger ever since Kirk's moved to Town & Country and somehow lost their touch.
1 # of burgers, 2 orders fries, 1 drink $25 .... not cheap
They do seem to be trying to get their act together in some respects still. I've been there twice. The first time the burger was sublime; the second time it was merely good, and that came from being more medium-well than medium. Both times the fries were good, but not everyone seems to have that experience, either.
As for the prices, they're high, but I'm not sure they're appreciably higher than apparent peninsula standbys Kirk's and Clarke's, and even the lesser of the two Counter burgers I had was better than either of those two. I hope they get things a bit more consistent overall (and don't nosedive in the attempt to franchise out nationally).
This is the first franchise of a projected 400- to 600-branch national chain.