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The Counter MDR

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Burger Boy Aug 22, 2008 03:04 PM

I still do not get it. I ordered the basic cheese burger, medium rare, onion strings and a milk shake. The burger came out almost well done and the bun was falling apart half way through the burger, the burger did not have a great meaty taste like some of my other favorite places. The onion strings were the highlite of the meal, real real good! The milkshake was good but not amazing. I think I need to stick to my favorites, 26 Beach, Cassell's, Yanaki's, Art's and Fresh & Meaty. I just met someone who works at 8oz, so I will be checking them out soon, I plan on going to Father's Office in Culver City next monday. I will report back on my findings, this is Burger Boy signing out!

  1. n
    noahbites Aug 26, 2008 10:21 AM

    I've never been satisfied with a burger at The Counter. I used to be around there a lot for work and had friends who lived right around the corner. Now, if I'm stuck in that neighborhood for lunch, I'd rather get the Il Forno lunch special or just make a salad at Mrs. Winstons.

    I just don't get why some people like The Counter so much. A bad burger is a waste of time and over there, it's a waste of money too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: noahbites
      e
      Evan G Aug 26, 2008 11:40 AM

      The thing that I dislike about the Counter is the lack of choice in bun selection. You can get cranberries on your burger, but your stuck with three bun choices.

    2. a
      arisp Aug 26, 2008 09:17 AM

      Ok people, I've been reading this site for a while now, but I had to sign up just to mention this: I've been living in LA for 7 years, had all kinds of burgers here, been going to FO since 2001. Anyways, all this to say that the TASTIEST and JUICIEST burger i've had here, hands down, is at Houston's. Why no one ever mentions this burger is beyond me. The bun is never dry and stale (almost each time at FO), and it's cooked to perfection each and every time (i eat it once a week, for 5 years now...)

      Enough with the FO worship. Anyone else share this view?

      2 Replies
      1. re: arisp
        n
        Newkie Aug 26, 2008 10:08 AM

        I hate to admit it, but yup, I really like the burger at Houston's too. It's juicy and flavorful, unlike the Counter which I find bland. It doesn't make it to my list of top 5 burgers in LA, but doesn't disappoint.

        1. re: arisp
          b
          brandygirl Aug 26, 2008 12:00 PM

          I'm actually happy to admit that Houston's has the BEST burger I've ever eaten (haven't been yet to Boneyard Bistro). Always cooked perfectly and well seasoned. Living in the valley, I really miss the old Woodland Hills location.

        2. notmartha Aug 25, 2008 08:22 PM

          I saw from the Counter's website that there's a 'crab cake' burger special. Anyone tried?

          Put me in the mildly annoyed at FO camp - but I still have to try it some day. A few weeks ago we finally found time to go to the one at Culver City, and miracles of all miracles they have no line! Imagine my disappointment when I found out you can't get food to go at that location. I know I saw people posted that they did get to-go on chowhound, and I emailed them when they first opened. Anyway, we settled at Let's Be Frank instead.

          At this rate I'll either have to find a babysitter on a Saturday or wait until my son goes to college before I can get around to sampling the burger.

          1 Reply
          1. re: notmartha
            n
            New Trial Aug 25, 2008 10:29 PM

            Having a crab cake burger there would be Counter-productive.

          2. s
            slacker Aug 25, 2008 06:50 PM

            Their turkey burger is bad too. Absolutely no flavor, plus a big mess of shredded lettuce. I felt so ripped off.

            1. t
              tannazie Aug 25, 2008 06:32 PM

              you know what's weird about the counter? they're supposed to be all about high-quality ingredients and an elevated burger experience and all this, but on their menu, they tout the fact that they use 'corn-fed' beef. you sure you want to say that out loud, counter? like, we're reading michael pollan these days, and we know that cows ain't supposed to eat corn. i was really surprised they mentioned that on their menu. it'd be great (and lots of buzz for them, although probably an expensive proposition), if they moved to grass-fed...

              1. r
                recovering_vegetarian Aug 25, 2008 12:02 PM

                Ha. I love that a post on the Counter turned into a debate of Father's Office vs. Boneyard Bistro (BTW, I don't think I could ever justify spending $20+ on a burger... well, that's not true--but the ingredients would have to be a lot more impressive than the ones listed here! And $19 for Velveeta? Seriously?!)

                Back to the Counter... Burger Boy, I think that by ordering the basic cheese burger, you kind of missed the point here. As weird as it may seem, the burgers aren't what the Counter is about (although I do like the turkey burger)--it's the toppings, and the fact that you can customize everything. It is a great place for people like me, who like to experiment with different flavor combinations and get bored with food easily. It's not so great for people who are burger purists. I mean, the burger patties are pre-frozen, after all. Their shakes, though, are excellent. And as for the common gripes: I've never had a bun fall apart. This might be because I never order the beef patty, or it might have to do with what toppings you choose? Also, they don't mean to have the fries come out with the burgers--that's why they are listed as "starters" on the menu. I'm not saying I agree with that idea, but it is part of their whole concept. I'm also not saying the Counter is amazing, but I do appreciate it for what it is.

                1 Reply
                1. re: recovering_vegetarian
                  b
                  Burger Boy Aug 25, 2008 07:21 PM

                  I wanted to be fair to the Counter and give them a straight up shot to wow me with a basic burger. The 26er at 26 Beach head to head kills it, a cassell's Cheese Burger kills it. This whole build your own burger thing, IMHO is a pain. I want to try what that Chef thinks is a great combo of things, it was a pain to even think about building my own burger. I respect Sang & FO for giving you what they consider a great combo of ingredients, same with 26 Beach, 26 Beach will let you modify, hench build your own also. The bun at The Counter was in pieces half way through and the meat had no flavor, I guess you add all those extra toppings to mask the flavorless beef. If you look at my previous posts about the Counter going back to the original one, with the original owner, they have never given me a good esperience, they are 0-4. I will try the turkey taco bowl cause I heard it was good and I did like the onion things, but the burgers, stick a fork in me I am well done, just like my medium-rare burger I ordered. Ciao for now.

                2. hrhboo Aug 23, 2008 09:38 AM

                  I had a surprisingly great burger at Bistrotek yesterday.

                  1. n
                    nosh Aug 22, 2008 10:34 PM

                    I understand how you can be perplexed by The Counter. They certainly seem to be "successful" -- according to their website they now have seven locations in California and four out of state, with more on the way. They've had some good ideas -- the ordering system, the onion strings and the combo of fries and onions, even the burger bowl. But for years now I read and hear the same complaints -- they can't coordinate the orders so the burgers come out with the fries, the buns fall apart, the burgers are unseasoned. And most important, they seem completely unable to produce a wonderful, juicy, medium-rare burger with a char. It is hockey pucks with tons of overwhelming toppings... But they seem to be able to draw the crowds, turn a profit, and fund expansion. Of course, so does Mickey D's.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nosh
                      westsidegal Aug 23, 2008 10:57 AM

                      fwiw, and i probably will get flamed here, re: the counter:
                      their veggie burgers are great
                      they use GOOD QUALITY ice cream for their shakes
                      i love the fries
                      the prices are good
                      they use GOOD QUALITY cheeses (which go best with meat that is not too salty)
                      they offer a whole grain bun if that's what you want
                      and, unlike fo, you can get WHATEVER TOPPING YOU WANT.

                    2. mrshankly Aug 22, 2008 05:52 PM

                      Burger Boy, check out Boneyard Bistro. I tried ther burger last weekend and it was quite good. A bit on the expensive side but worth a try for a burger fan.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: mrshankly
                        s
                        sel Aug 22, 2008 07:43 PM

                        "A bit on the expensive side......." well the Big Old Stinkey or Stinko or whatever Aaron calls it was about $22 and I would just call that EXPENSIVE for a burger that he and certain CH posters compare to Sang Yoon's Office Burger that is priced at $12 and to my tastes a better burger!

                        1. re: sel
                          b
                          Burger Boy Aug 23, 2008 12:09 AM

                          i thought Father's Office was like $15 0r $16? Heck. 26 Beach is $11 and it comes with fries or a salad, they even make their own buns.

                          1. re: sel
                            d
                            Diana Aug 23, 2008 08:57 AM

                            The Stinkey is a fabulous burger worth every penny, and I',m not sure it's at $22, I think it's less. The FO burger, is not $12, and comes with a big heaping plate of attitude and snoot. Boneyard has easily blown away FO in terms of atmosphere, service, charm, food, beer (without beer snootiness!) Flexibility, reservation policy and, oh yes, ketchup availability.

                            Also, Arron has topped Sang by offering, get this innovation, more than one type of hamburger and, yes, a good menu of tons of items.

                            No Aaron does not go on KCRW to read the information off the back of the bottle- ahem, I mean "Share his beer expertise", Nor has he been on the "Secret life of..." to show off his ritzy house and discuss his rather odd burger constraints. perhaps that is why Aaron has his feet on the ground.

                            I imagine Sang was a very A -retentive child. Or maybe he has only one burger in him.

                            *end of rant*

                            Here comes the flood of FO groupie anger response team mail.

                            1. re: Diana
                              Servorg Aug 23, 2008 09:56 AM

                              Hi Diana. I like FO burger. It is probably the best burger I have had in LA when it comes to quality of meat and overall taste. Still trying to get out to BYB to give it a try. But you have to remember - you're comparing a restaurant to a bar. What FO does in terms of food has always been excellent. But as a bar it will never be offering the depth or breadth of food that a restaurant will. The new LA / CC adjacent location hasn't demonstrated even a hint of "attitude or snoot" - and BYB is a very friendly environment. Great beer selections at both. As far as Sang having been a very A -retentive child - just remember "no children allowed at FO" so evidently he leaves that aspect of his personality home (if he has one). YMMV ;-D

                              1. re: Servorg
                                hrhboo Aug 23, 2008 11:49 AM

                                Agreed! I've never tried the Boneyard burger and I'm sure they're both good in their own right but I don't think it's fair to compare a $12 bar burger to a restaurant burger almost twice the price.

                              2. re: Diana
                                mollyomormon Aug 23, 2008 03:31 PM

                                The FO burger is, indeed, $12 just as the Stinky is, indeed, $22. As others have noted, that's quite a large difference in price to make a fair comparison.

                                If you end up back at the Counter, make sure to order your burger with blue cheese because the meat is too underseasoned without. They also have fired dill pickles, but I think the ones at Hooters are better.

                                1. re: mollyomormon
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                                  la tache burger Aug 24, 2008 08:38 AM

                                  Another thing, in my opinion the BYB burger is unmemorable. Had it once, will never order it again, especially with all the great choices on the BYB menu. The burger is not among the top ten items I've had there. FO Burger blows it away IMO, regardless of price. (Also, never had attitude problem at FO, yes different from the very very friendly and great vibe at BYB, but still perfect pitch for what it is and never rude IMO)

                                  1. re: la tache burger
                                    d
                                    Diana Aug 25, 2008 08:31 AM

                                    La Tache, which burger did you have at Boneyard Bistro? Here is the selection right now from the menu, including prices (oh, by the way molly, ONE burger is $22, my beloved Stinkey, and no wonder, when you see the ingredients. Truffle oil ain't cheap!)

                                    “The Classic”- Choice of St. Agur Blue Cheese, Aged Irish Cheddar Cheese, Bel Chimay, Morbier * “Nueske’s” Applewood Bacon * House Made Smoked Onion Aioli 19

                                    “The O.M.G.” - Beer Battered Onion Rings * Chipotle Aioli * BBQ Sauce * Tomatoes * Onion * Pickles * Nueske’s Applewood Bacon * Cheddar Cheese 21

                                    “The Californian Special” * Housemade 1000 Island * Sauteed Onions * Shredded Lettuce * Tomato * Raw Onion * Pickles * Nueske’s Applewood Bacon and of course “Velveeta” 19

                                    “The Stinky” * Roasted Garlic, Balsamic Onion Marmalade * Sautéed Portobello & Shiitake Mushrooms *Truffle Oil Laced Arugala * Tellagio Cheese * Roasted Garlic Dijon Mustard* Fresh Garlic Paste 22

                                    “Burger of the Moment” * Chef’s Random Creation AQ

                                    1. re: Diana
                                      mollyomormon Aug 25, 2008 09:05 AM

                                      I was just clarifying because in your first post you said you didn't think the Stinky was $22 and you incorrectly stated that the FO burger wasn't $12:

                                      "The Stinkey is a fabulous burger worth every penny, and I',m not sure it's at $22, I think it's less. The FO burger, is not $12, and comes with a big heaping plate of attitude and snoot."

                                      1. re: Diana
                                        mollyomormon Aug 25, 2008 09:30 AM

                                        I can't tell from this portion of the menu, do the BYB burgers come with anything? Because those prices really are *very* high for a burger. I realize that only one of them is $22, but why the hell is the OMG so expensive? The bacon? And the Californian special is $19 and comes topped with Velveeta?? That seems absurd to me. Is it like ultra-premuim Velveeta?

                                        1. re: mollyomormon
                                          Dommy Aug 25, 2008 09:55 AM

                                          They do come at LEAST with one side. And the sides are rather generous...

                                          Having been to both recently... I think BYB is making the most of its real estate, relationships and the fact that quite honestly it's probably the best food on that stretch of town (I don't say this with enthusiam however)

                                          We went a couple of weekends ago and found the service and kitchen painfully SLOW. But we kinda got lucky... another couple rather new to the restaurant as well was compeletely forgotten and when their food finally emerged, their 'request' not honored.

                                          All the meanwhile the waiter was attempting to straighten this up, the chef (again, apps and mains in our section were coming out SUPER late) spent a good 15 minutes at ONE table. A couple of us in the room were shooting "Get back in the kitchen" daggers at him... LOL!

                                          Again, WHEN we got the food, we were VERY pleased (We got BBQ plates) of food. In the end, we just kinda laughed off the service (Because were having a rather weird day anyway... I swear I have Bad Over the Hill Karma) and didn't feel like we overpaid TOO much because the portions were very generous (Had enough for leftovers the next day) and the quality we felt was very good (Loved my pulled pork). BUT, this opinion was highly based on the fact that we really felt like it was the best option available as to where we were stuck.

                                          If BYB opened up in Culver City down the street from FO... Lemme tell ya, there would be NO contest.

                                          --Dommy!

                                          1. re: Dommy
                                            d
                                            Diana Aug 25, 2008 11:24 AM

                                            If BYB opened up in Culver City down the street from FO... Lemme tell ya, there would be NO contest.

                                            Funny, I totally agree with what you type here, but I would mean FO would be blown away by Boneyard! I think people would appreciate fine beer combined with a bigger menu and a more welcome attitude, plus reservations.

                                            I have never had the experience you did with lateness. You should have told the owner...he would have done something t make it up to you

                                            1. re: Diana
                                              b
                                              budlit Aug 26, 2008 12:20 PM

                                              I've never received bad attitude at FO

                                        2. re: Diana
                                          l
                                          la tache burger Aug 25, 2008 10:35 AM

                                          I had the OMG. I don't remember having any specific complaint except it did not blow me away and I remember needing to reorganize the elements to make it work optimally for me. The chef recommended it to me on the previous visit, so I tried it the next time I was in, and obviously wanted to love it.

                                    2. re: Diana
                                      j
                                      jbeecher Aug 25, 2008 08:06 PM

                                      I have to say, beyond Sang Yoon's food-nazi mentality (which I might have a bigger problem with if the food at FO weren't so good), I don't understand the attitude problem that's been mentioned here.

                                      I mean, there is the bouncer at the door (it's a bar), but beyond that, I don't get it ... the bartenders have always been friendly and do everything I ask of them -- going over the menu when I ask a question, taking a fair amount of time to explain the beers and find one to match my tastes. (I'm a wine guy and totally in over my head at FO with the beer selection.)

                                      Granted, it's a busy place and they don't have 20 minutes to chat about life, but they always get the job done well and in a professional manner. So as far as attitude -- I simply don't understand the complaints, and suspect this may be projecting a bit of the trendy factor and perhaps some of the crowd here, onto the staff itself.

                                      FWIW, I've only gone to the LA location and have heard the SM one can be a drag.

                                      1. re: Diana
                                        b
                                        brandygirl Aug 26, 2008 11:54 AM

                                        Diana, although I like FO's burger, it is far from my favorite. I agree with you 100% about the attitude of the owner. Who the heck is Soon to tell customers how to eat their burgers! I would much rather give my business to someone who cares more about the customer's satisfaction than their own ego.

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