The husband and I tried a new burger joint last night called The Counter. Before I begin my review let me preface it by saying we are burger connoisseurs. My husband has worked for In N Out for 9 years and he could go on and on about meat quality and taste. Plus he is a very good cook who specializes in burgers and steaks. Consequently, a burger joint has to be pretty amazing in order to really impress us. The Counter is amazing.
When I walked into the restaurant I got the same vibe as I do from Urban Outfitters. It’s very modern and hip, but also laid back. It looks like a posh warehouse with aluminum chairs, metal pipes on the ceiling, cool blue walls, minimalist art and a really cool window that looks like a garage door. It has a very versatile environment- I would feel just as comfortable taking my young nieces and nephews there as I would grabbing drinks with friends. It is a sit down restaurant, which surprised my husband and I, but it turns out waiters are pretty necessary for the operation.
The premise of The Counter is that customers get to build their own burgers. When we were seated the waitress handed us a menu and checklist. On the checklist we got to mark the items we wanted on the burger. First we picked the meat, then the cheese, four toppings, sauce and the bun. I picked a 1/3 lbs turkey burger with herb goat cheese, cucumbers, sprouts, roasted peppers and pepperoncinis with a basil pesto sauce. Joe ordered a 2/3lb beef burger with blue cheese, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, jalapeños and pickles. He ordered BBQ sauce as well but didn’t like it. Luckily, they always put the sauce on the side so that one bad decision didn’t ruin the burger.
Both of us agreed that the burgers were fantastic. The meat was juicy but not greasy. All of the ingredients were fresh and the blue cheese was one of the best we have ever tasted. I was amazed at the variety of ingredients they had. One of the toppings was dried cranberries. I have never thought about putting cranberries on a burger but with the right sauce I think it could work. Their website has the whole menu so you can see for yourself all the exciting combinations that can be made.
Of course, they offer more than just burgers. Hubby and I shared some sweet potato fries and onion strings, both were delightful. The onion strings especially were very flavorful. So many times onion rings or strings just taste like fried batter but these had some delicious spices that gave them an extra zing. They also served various desserts including milkshakes and malts. A full bar rounded out the menu.
The service was just as good as the food. I asked for syrup for my sweet potato fries and although they didn’t have any, a waiter brought out a side of honey. I loved that although he couldn’t give me exactly what I wanted he took the time to find the next best thing. Our waitress was very polite but always seemed rushed. She would often start walking away before she had finished her last sentence. The place was busy, and I would rather have a rushed waitress than a lazy one, but I do wish she had slowed down and made a little bit of small talk.
One last thing, I highly recommend this place to vegetarians and vegans. They have a vegan patty that is made in house and with all the different sauces and toppings they offer, I’m sure you can create the most interesting, delicious vegan burger you’ve ever had.
The franchised chain has 23 locations nationwide, but only one in Orange County. It’s located in the Woddbury Town Center in Irvine. The address is 6416 Irvine Boulevard. Visit the website for hours and other locations. Then go there this weekend and treat yourself to the second best burger around (we will always claim that In N Out is the best…but we are very biased)