What is The Counter? From their website:
"Step into The Counter® and you’re greeted with a
clipboard and an extensive list of fresh mouth-watering ingredients
that allow you to build your own gourmet burger. Our 312,120+ different burger combinations make every burger as unique as each customer. Rarely is the same burger made twice in one day.
Anti-Established in 2003, The Counter® is the 21st century’s bold answer to the classic burger joint. Ushering in a fresh era of industrial decor, today’s music, cold beer, unique wines, cocktails, and burger options that are only limited by your imagination."
Sean has been looking forward to going to The Counter in Kahala Mall while we were in Hawaii because
- He is a cheeseburger aficionado.
- He is a Lost FANatic and the one in Kahala on is co-owned by Daniel Dae Kim.
Since it is a franchise, I decided to see if there were any other Counters nearby and I found a total of 4 within 45 minutes of us. Sean was all up for a preview so after several false starts trying to get to the Santa Monica one (Thanks Mr. GP), we finally made it out to the one in Irvine this weekend.
On our table:
Sean - Old School Burger (All Natural Ground Beef, Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Pickle Red Relish), Chili Cheese Fries
Johnny - Fifty-Fifty (Sweet Potato & Onion Strings), Banana Split Milkshake (April's Shake of the Month)
Myself - Moroccan Style Salmon Burger (Fresh Atlantic Salmon Seasoned with Shallots, Lemon and Parsley. Topped with Grilled Japanese Eggplant and Tapenade Carrot Salad on a bed of Mixed Baby Greens. Served on a Hamburger Bun with Harissa Sauce.), shared Johnny's Fifty Fifty
Now for out humble opinions on the food:
From Sean: "Despite The Counter's 3.2 billion potential variations on the burger (or something like that), I went with the basic, core, foundation of burgerdom - The Old School. First, I'll get my one complaint out of the way - I asked for the burger to be medium well, yet got it medium, which is a little undercooked for my personal tastes. Regardless, the burger was lightly seasoned and very, very fresh and juicy. It was also a bit thicker than your normal restaurant burger, which added to the overall enjoyment. It came with the usual suspects of burger toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion (I went with raw, instead of grilled) all which were very fresh. It was served with a relish-ketchup mix on the side. Very tasty. Reminded me a lot of the sauce on a Bob's Big Boy, though The Counter's Old School burger tasted and felt a lot more like something I would make at home. The Tillamook Cheddar was perfectly melted around the patty.
From Johnny: "The Fifty Fifty combo was really good. The sweet potato fries were the crispiest I ever tasted. The onion strings were perfectly seasoned. Now my shake. It was heaven in a cup. There was strawberry and banana chunks in a perfectly blended Neapolitan tasting shake. Too bad that this is only a flavor of the month."
Myself: I loved the salmon "burger"! It tasted really fresh and the salmon was still chunky with zero taste of any binding agent or filler. The seasonings were spot on. The Harissa was so very tasty with the salmon. They served it on the side which I was grateful for since I am not supposed to have spicy things. For those of you unfamiliar with Harissa, it is a North African hot red sauce made from chilies and garlic. It is very similar in taste and consistency to Sambal Olek. The only "off" thing about the plate was the grilled eggplant which were only eggplant skins. Strange but no big deal. I wish this was on the regular menu and not just a monthly special because I would definitely order it again.
The fifty-fifty was very enjoyable. The onion strings were very light and sweet and the sweet potato fries were perfection. The dipping sauces were very complementary to both items, but the stings and fries held their own without them. The portion they give you is huge and could easily be shared by two people or three people if one of them has GP. ;-) I also had a bite of Sean's cookie and it was Tollhouse-licious!
A Hui Hou!