Review - Counter Burger Palo Alto
DeeGlaze and I were in the neighborhood so we popped by Counter Burger to see what it's all about. Very crowded at about 7:30 and we almost went up the block to Med Wraps but instead stuck around. We grabbed a spot in the queue only to discover after 10 minutes that is was for orders to go. Once in the correct place we were seated quickly.
The menu is simple, basically you build your own burger from a long list of options. Due to the sheer number and variety of choices there is ample opportunity to create some truly disgusting combinations and I'm sure the assemblers in the back scratch their heads sometimes. I kept it relatively tame and went with a beef burger on a toasted bun with melted gruyere, grilled onions, bacon, and tomatoes, with a garlic aioli on the side. The results were quite good. The burger was juicy and well-seasoned, the gruyere was actually gruyere with a nice nutty flavor, the bacon was flavorful too, cooked just shy of crispy, and the aioli had a nice garlicky zip. Everything tasted fresh and robust.
Our bill for two burgers and two soft-drinks came to $25 before tip, a fair price for what we ate given the relative quality of the ingredients. Seems like a good concept in general. Lots of students, families with young kids, and others just interested in some comfort-food. I'll likely return next time the burger itch needs scratching.
369 California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Nice report chewchew. How do you feel they compare to Kirk's and Clark's or other area burger joints?
Do they charge by the ingrediant?
I've never had burgers at either Kirk's or Clark's so I can't compare them. They're better than what I've had at BBC. You get some "free" ingredients - one choice of cheese, a bun, 4 toppings, and a sauce. After that it's additional charges for extras and/or "premium toppings." Here's their menu
Kirks used to be the gold standard! No more. Clarks' overcooked meat never measured up and nothing has since.
I've been meaning to write up my Counter experience, too. Here goes:
The menu at The Counter is printed on a clipboard, and you submit an order form to your server. The cost of a burger includes a sauce, a cheese, and 4 toppings. It costs extra for more sauces and toppings. My boyfriend immediately started to calculate how much all 54 possible toppings on a burger would cost. He wasn't alone since we found out that in the opening week, a guy went in and ordered all 54 toppings on a single $45.50 burger.
I kept things much simpler, and tried to pick toppings that would compliment each other. My burger had no cheese, lettuce (so radical of me!), green chiles, tomatoes, dill pickle chips, and sweet onion marmalade. It's pretty unadventurous by Counter standards, but I wanted to taste my green chiles so I didn't want to compromise that by making some truly disgusting combination involving hard-boiled eggs, jalapenos, cranberries, and horseradish.
I thought my ingredients melded beautifully. Even better, the burgers are all cooked medium, and they are a lovely deep pink (closer to rare than well which is a good thing). By far it was one of the best burgers I've ever had. It may have even surpassed my favorite burger at Bonne Sante in Burlingame.
The boyfriend raved about one of his toppings - the roasted corn and black bean salsa, so I'll have to try that next time. My friend's garlic aioli burger topping looked tasty, too.
We also tried a basket of the sweet potato fries (comes with aioli), which we liked at first, but quickly got tiresome. A "burger in a bowl" option appealed to my Atkins diet friends (so 2003!).
Also on the menu under starters is the interestingly named "hobo pack" which is only an assortment of grilled vegetables tossed with fresh herbs (no grilled hobos). Of note is that you can start your burger meal with a starter of 4 mini cheeseburgers and end it with a brownie burger. Now that that guy ate the burger of 54 toppings, the only conquest left at The Counter is to have a 3-course burger meal.
I was at The Counter over the weekend. It is a great concept although the number of choices is overwhelming. I liked my burger - it was very generous in size, quite juicy but a bit overcooked. I thought the burger itself was better than Clark's but perhaps not as good as City Pub in RWC. And, I was very impressed by the turkey burger. My favorite item, though, were the sweet potato fries. They were very crispy and perfectly salted. I enjoyed them without any sauce or ketchup. A bit more of a review on my blog: