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Making Room at The Counter for some Hounds!

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Dommy! Sep 26, 2005 04:23 PM

You get a clip board and be prepared to be overwhelmed. That was my feeling when I first looked at the counter burger menu. “Build your own burger” he form screams… then you follow the steps…

First step, is pretty easy… Beef, Turkey, Veggie and size of patty… 1/3, 2/3 or MONSTER 1lb…

Then, your head spins… Choose your cheese, 4 toppings, Extra toppings, Sauce and Roll!! ACK!! For the trick was to pick everything that would work well… resist the just naturally yummy adds ons like Avocado and bacon... or messy add ons like tomato and lettuce.

And not only was I presented this challenge, but a group of 10 hounds decended on the Counter this Sunday to accept and tackle this challenge…

The variety of burgers choosen was befit of a group of hounds. Turkey Burger, Burger in a bowl, burger with sautéed mushrooms, burger with grilled pineapple! HUGE burgers and smart compact burgers!

As for me, I choose the 1/3lb burger with Grilled Onions and roasted Chiles, Topped with Pepper Jack Cheese and Dijon Balsamic Dressings. I love spicy and I love sweet… this seemed like the perfect blending of the two without too many ingredients…

We pretty much also ordered all the side dishes. The regular fries were thin, slightly crisp (Even when it ordered extra crispy) but not very flavorful. They also just added Sweet Potato Fries. Great yammy flavor, also slightly crisp, but I find them needing a bit of salt. Thicker than Father’s Office version, which I actually prefer. The crispy onion strings were great! The batter had lots of flavor to compensate for the SUPER thin onion. However, because they there were indeed ‘strings’m it was weren’t that easy to eat or dip in sauce. They would have been excellent though in a burger or atop of the burger in a bowl… Finally, the winner in mine and BF’s mind, the fried pickles. A light super crisp batter, they sound odd and well… they are! The edges of the pickles were slightly warm, which made for a kinda fried zucchini taste, but the core was still cool and full of that sour pickle flavor… Plus they came with this great chuntey dipping sauce, so you get fried, sour, sweet flavors… Hmmmm…

They have several great beers and even wine available, but when I was looking to the perfect accompaniment to my spicy burger, nothing jumped out like a milk shake… And the most unique of the bunch was the Apple Pie Milkshake! And the taste was OUTSTANDING. It really tasted as if someone blended a piece of apple pie with ice cream. It even had bits of crust in it! Hmmm….

Finally, the burgers came out. BF ordered the sliders, which were SO cute!! He was smart and ordered them on the rare side, a MUST since the slice of patty is SO thin and small. But they were really tasty, especially smothered in ketchup! YUM!!

As for my burger, it was good, cooked a bit too on the well side. But the meat was soft and flavorful (Although not as flavorful as Father’s office or some of the other gourmet burger’s I’ve had). But sadly, my ingredients didn’t blend as well as I’d like. Thankfully they put the ‘sauce’ on the side, because my balsamic Dijon dressings was a bit too sweet… not much Dijon flavor. I used it mostly as a pretty tasty dipping sauce for the regular fried.

Also, while the grilled onions were done perfect, the roasted chiles were of the New Mexico Type, not a bit of heat at all… Further, the pepper jack didn’t add any punch to it… either… So I was pretty much left with a rather sweet burger…

Next time, I’ll defiantly order the bacon, and perhaps the sharp cheddar or horseradish cheddar and defiantly the spicy sour cream…

So verdict, it’s a pretty cool place to visit and try, I’ll defiantly go again as it’s in the BF’s hood. As for it being L.A.’s best burger… Well… for me, that’s father’s office (Although there was much debate at the table regarding that claim as well!) but unlike father’s office, it’s nice to have the choice of getting what you want, especially Ketchup! :)

--Dommy!

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    coffeebeast RE: Dommy! Sep 26, 2005 06:59 PM

    OMG! They have fried pickles?? If I had known that I would have gone there ages ago!

    Sounds like they are different from the type I've had before, though - which were breadcrumb breaded, served with ranch sauce. Don't suppose there are any of that type in LA?

    1 Reply
    1. re: coffeebeast
      b
      Burger Boy RE: coffeebeast Sep 27, 2005 10:54 AM

      BB Kings at the City Walk has fried puckles that are great.
      Not a big fan of much at The Counter, always had bad luck with order or to salty. Enjoy your pickles, I love it when the use the right type and bread them right.

    2. w
      WildSwede RE: Dommy! Sep 26, 2005 07:41 PM

      Yes, Dommy! did it again - arranged the perfect outing for us 'hounds!!
      I ordered the 1/3 lb. beef burger, specified medium rare (came out more rare than medium which I prefer). Grilled onions, roasted chilis, pepper jack (which as Donny! indicated had really no flavor), guacamole, pepperoncinis on the side (which I never got), and the spicy sour cream. It was nice that the guac and sour cream came on the side. I liked the chilis on my burger - played very well with the onions. Boy oh boy did that make for a good burger! Perfect. Oh yeah, with a rootbeer to wash it all down.
      My favorite side was the onion strings (the dip they served it with was really good) and the sweet potatoes which really did not have a lot of flavor till you dipped them. Fries were nothing spectacular and after my two fried pickle chips, I didn't need any more.
      We, as always with our outings, had a great time. Hip Hip Hurrah!!

      1. p
        PaulF RE: Dommy! Sep 27, 2005 01:11 PM

        I like The Counter, too.

        We eat there sometimes, every once in a while.

        But lost in the originality of building your own burger is the following:

        1) The place is pretty expensive for hamburgers. When I take the family out for burgers, I get in the mind set that this won't be a very expensive night, but the Counter seems expensive for what you get.

        2) And this really bugs me - they bring the side out before the burgers. If you order some fries and pickles or onion rings, they always come out way before the burgers. And they get cold fast, so you eat them and then your full on sides before the burgers arrive.

        My kid's play sports in Santa Monica and every practice/game is at either Clover Park, John Adams Middle School or Los Amigos Park. Every one of them is down the street from The Counter. We eat out all the time because it's too late to go home and cook but we stopped going to The Counter because 1) price, 2) weird service and 3) my kids don't like it at all. They think the burgers are too big and too messy and don't taste as good as other burgers.

        JMO ...

        1 Reply
        1. re: PaulF
          w
          westsidegal RE: PaulF Sep 27, 2005 07:09 PM

          must disagree w/ your criticism re: the price.
          i ALWAYS feel like i have gotten more than my money's worth there.

          the quality and selection of cheeses and toppings warrant, in my opinion, a much higher price.
          also, they grind their own meat, so you are not getting the pre-frozen block of rubber that most places in that price range serve.

          lastly, their veggie burger is a cut above all the other places in town. most other places just serve a frozen garden burger, yves burger, or boca burger. the one at the counter is not a "copy" of a meat burger. it is made of vegetables formed into a patty, which, to me is much more attractive. you can see the black beans and corn and the other individual vegetables that went into the patty.

        2. t
          ThatPat RE: Dommy! Sep 28, 2005 01:20 AM

          Kudos once again to Dommy for another successful "chowting!" I was the burger in the bowl part of the group. I live in Santa Monica, so had tried the Counter a number of times before. On the plus side: if you like burgers more than bread and want to stay on your high protein diet, the burger in the bowl is a good option (and I have not seen it on a menu elsewhere). You can pick your own add-ons--four for free(I chose carrot swirls --think that's what their called, olives, roasted peppers, and bean and corn salad) and had avocado added for a dollar extra. It came with a very nice balsamic vinaigrette (my choice). I agree with Dommy that the best thing on the menu was the fried pickle chips, which I had never tried before. They were addictively good. Their sweet potato fries and French fries are really unmemorable.

          Minuses here--big minus to me--I find their meat rather dry. Better burgers IMO can be had at (in order of preference) 1) Houston's Santa Monica (California burger) (and their fries are fabulous) 2) 26 Beach (basic burger) 3) Nook Bistro (comes on a LaBrea Bakery ciabatta) 4) Lemon Moon. All of these are pricey burgers but worth it, since I don't eat burgers that often. (I live a block from Father's Office but am not a fan).

          1. kevinucla2000 RE: Dommy! Jul 18, 2007 05:24 PM

            Going for the 1st time... any suggestions?

            7 Replies
            1. re: kevinucla2000
              Dommy RE: kevinucla2000 Jul 18, 2007 05:41 PM

              This was an old post... they have changed a bit since then, here's a more updated version...

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41029...

              Here's some tips...

              * Don't go all beef crazy... 1/3lb is MORE than enough... any patty size bigger just makes for a messier and off balanced burger...

              * Don't go all topping crazy... you can choose up to four... but that doesn't mean you SHOULD. Pick two that are your favorite a compliment each other... Three... TOPS...

              * You MUST order a milkshake... they have several on the menu including the MSotM (Which this month is some chocolate coffee monstrosity... I'd get Apple Pie personally)

              Finally... be prepared to WAIT. This place is incredibly popular and doesn't do reservations... The night we went some hot shot skater celebrity came in... and even though the manager greeted him and everything... he had to GET IN LINE like everyone else (His GF was PISSED... LOL!!)

              Best!

              --Dommy!

              1. re: Dommy
                kevinucla2000 RE: Dommy Jul 19, 2007 09:31 AM

                the burger was good, but the apple pie shake.... it was amazing!!! ^^ thanks man!

                1. re: kevinucla2000
                  Dommy RE: kevinucla2000 Jul 19, 2007 11:41 AM

                  No worries! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

                  --Dommy!

                2. re: Dommy
                  WildSwede RE: Dommy Jul 19, 2007 12:34 PM

                  Also, try to skip having tomato on your burger. Makes everything slip off and fall apart that much easier!

                3. re: kevinucla2000
                  westsidegal RE: kevinucla2000 Jul 19, 2007 12:52 PM

                  if you like blue cheese, you should know that the quality of the blue cheese they serve is really good.
                  everyone i know who orders blue cheese on their burger at the counter is really pleased with the place
                  probably this is because of the good quality of the cheese and because the saltiness and creaminess of the cheese fits well with the burger.

                  1. re: westsidegal
                    mollyomormon RE: westsidegal Jul 19, 2007 12:57 PM

                    I agree that the blue cheese is key to having a good burger at The Counter. Otherwise, the meat is a little underseasoned and not that flavorful.

                    1. re: mollyomormon
                      Dommy RE: mollyomormon Jul 19, 2007 01:42 PM

                      Thanks Ladies! I LOVE blue cheese but since everything has been sorta 'Meh' up until last visit, I've never given it as shot! :D Next time fer sure!

                      --Dommy!

                4. brekkie_fan RE: Dommy! Jul 18, 2007 06:28 PM

                  can't wait for Irvine location to open....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: brekkie_fan
                    barcelona RE: brekkie_fan Jul 19, 2007 01:00 PM

                    The counter is okay! they have a good concept and I think they are actullay sold out of their franchise locations!!! I don't care for the dry burgers, the poor service, but like to choose and pick my toppings (thumbs up)

                    I give them a 6/10

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