Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quickie Review #35: The Counter Custom Built Burgers

As Americans, we pride ourselves on individual freedoms. Freedom to worship, work, and speak in any manner we see fit, as long as we're not yelling "Fire" in the proverbial crowded theatre. We particularly cherish freedom of choice. By God, we will shop, eat, and drink wherever we choose, whenever we choose, for as long as our precious dollars last. The Counter, a year-old denizen of The Shops at Legacy in Plano, has built a burgeoning burger empire on this very idea, giving patrons the opportunity to construct their own burger any way they so desire, as well as offering a limited number of sandwiches, bar food (there is a full bar, if you're so inclined), fountain shakes, and other goodies for the intrepid adventurer. My lovely wife the Rock Star has long been intrigued by the concept, and since she always intrigues me, we decided to scoot our metaphorical boots northward one recent Saturday lunchtime.

Parking in the front of the restaurant is competitive, and patrons are limited to one hour, so please plan accordingly. The Shops at Legacy does have a central parking garage and that may be your best bet if you plan on lingering and don't mind a brisk walk. Interior is Spartan minimalist, with clean lines, high ceilings, and simple metal chairs. Walking in, we were quickly handed a clipboard by one of the Surfer-Dude-esque waitstaff, who politely explained the concept to us. Basically, The Counter works like your standard sushi joint, where you mark your own selections on said clipboard, then wait patiently for the (hopefully) magical results to arrive.
Scanning the options, we both decided not to partake of the premade burgers, but rather jump off the deep end into the build-your-own waters. The Counter offers four choices of protein (beef, chicken, turkey, and veggie), which can be customized by a dizzying array of sauces and toppings, resulting in literally thousands of possible combinations. Also, you can have your burger on a bun or in a bowl, with lettuce or baby greens substituting for the bread, very convenient if you're watching you carbs. My wife decided on the traditional approach, with beef, Tillamook cheddar, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, fried onion strings, dill pickle chips, and ranch dressing astride a rather conventional bun. She was quite happy with the results, although I tasted it and felt it needed a kick of spice. The beef is custom-grilled Angus, medium unless requested otherwise, and was indeed quite tasty although the patty seemed premade and slightly tough texturally. I decided to forego the bun, and instead had my beef in a bowl of baby greens, with Danish bleu cheese, Bermuda red onion, roasted corn and black bean salsa, pepperoncinis, and roasted red peppers, served with a side of Southwest Caesar. Personally, I found this approach more successful than my wife's choice, the Danish cheese adding richness to the dish, balanced nicely by the beef, salsa, and Caesar kick, resulting in a seductive burger salad that I devoured happily. We also ordered cheese fries, and they were good, particularly when dipped in the Caesar and not the accompanying ranch, which was rather boring. Service was pleasant but preoccupied and forgetful, and we were left alone for rather long stretches of time. Website is http://www.thecounterburger.com/, where among other things, they feature a Counter Culture Community, which gives you the opportunity to interact with like-minded burger fans, and perhaps win a gift card in the bargain. Exercise your freedom of choice soon, and don't forget:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

6 comments:

Margie said...

Interesting! I didn't even know such a place existed. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed if I have too many choices. Though, nothing wrong with actually getting exactly what you want either.

Food Czar said...

Oh, yes, Margie, and The Counter is definitely worth trying. I love the concept, but I truly don't care if there are 5000 burger choices or five, as long as the results are tasty!

michelle said...

oh my goodness. brian is going to love this place. Neiman Marcus has a similar idea (on a smaller scale) called the Burger Bar. we tried it and weren't super impressed. loved the idea though, so we'll need to try The Counter!

Food Czar said...

Michelle, I had forgotten that Brian was on a burger quest. I'll be very interested to see what he says about The Counter.

Donna said...

Czar, were the patties thick homestyle or thin fast food style? I'm curious to try this place but the menu almost sounds too worldsy, I like a regular burger without all the extras.

Food Czar said...

Honestly, Donna, I would call them halfway-in-between. Not too thick or too thin. Also, for you and other traditionalists, I would suggest a premade burger, either the Old School or The Counter burger.