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Burgers At The Counter

09 May 2015 Written by  By Caroline Robertson
Published in May 2015 Articles

The Counter is located in Walnut Creek at the corner of N. California and Cole, on the ground floor of the Mercer Building.

The Counter’s menu is gourmet and designed for social foodies. Our home is within walking distance, so my husband, our two daughters, and I love to drop by for some of their incredible food selections. If we are in a hurry, we can order ahead using their superior online ordering system and the food will be waiting for us when we arrive. The place always seems to be bustling and happy; I enjoy the vibe. I’ve brought my daughter’s soccer team in for after-game burgers and fries and appreciate The Counter’s sense of community spirit. They generously contribute to a number of fundraising events in support of youth sports, schools, and clubs.

Diners can choose from an incredible number of The Counter options. There are 6 choices of meat, 16 different kinds of cheese, 27 styles of sauce, 50 different toppings, and 9 kinds of buns resulting in so many possible combinations that you could eat at The Counter every day for the rest of your life and never eat the same thing twice.

I love the variety! My daughter is choosy about food, so she orders off the Build Your Own Burger menu and selects the eccentric list of ingredients she prefers in order to create what she considers a perfect hamburger. I like to eat healthy myself, so I pile my burger with vegies and order it on a whole-wheat bun. The Counter choices can be as healthy as you wish. Your burger can be served bread-free salad-style in a bowl. You can also haveburgers that are gluten-free or vegan. They use all-natural meat from animals raised without hormones or antibiotics, plus fruits and vegetables with just-off-the-farm freshness. The Counter quality sometimes begins to affect the palate before you take the first bite; you can always taste the difference.

Besides the custom burger options, The Counter menu offers standard burgers for people who steer their creative urges in other directions than burger building. The Bacon BBQ Burger remains the favorite. It is topped with cheddar cheese, onion strings, and tomatoes. Of course, you are free to subtract or add any item you wish. For example, you could have a fried egg on it, if that’s what you wanted.

My husband sometimes orders the Bison Burger. The meat is leaner and healthier. Even more appealing to some guys: Where else can you eat a burger using meat from an actual American buffalo? Like everything else, the Bison Burger is customizable. He can put goat cheese on it, if he chooses to do so.

The Counter’s side dishes are as good as their burgers. Their Crispy Onions are amazing. My daughter considers their Sweet Potato Fries to be the best available anyplace. Their Deep Fried Pickle Chips, served with apricot sauce are as delicious as they are unique. The milkshakes are extraordinary. There are

three signature shakes including Birthday Cake made with cake mix and rainbow sprinkles, which my daughter likes. A Banana Split shake, and a Caramel Apple Crumble cake that seems especially appealing to me. We tried the current special, called Graceland, which is made with bacon, peanut butter, and banana — named in honor of Elvis’ favorite sandwich. It is difficult to imagine how adding bacon to a milkshake would in any way contribute to the taste, but it somehow worked. Scrumptious! The Apple Moonshine shake is adults only, with apple crisp and Moonshine Whiskey. Like the burgers, you can build your own shake with any combination of 13 separate ingredients.

For diners who prefer sandwiches to burgers, the menu offers four choices served on sourdough bread — a Stacked BLT with roasted garlic aioli, a Grilled Ham & Cheese featuring Black Forest Ham, and a Veggie Club with an amazing list of ingredients including grilled zucchini and roasted red peppers. A Grilled Cheese Trifecta sandwich, made with Tillamook cheddar, American, and provolone, would be especially inviting to any cheese lover.

The Counter menu is always updating. In May, for example, the Carne Asada Burger is the special. The special milkshake is Churro. (I’m going to have to try one of those.)

There is a full bar. We sampled an extraordinary drink, called Cardinal Cosmopolitan, which is made with pomegranate, and a Hot Lips drink concoction that featured pieces of fresh Jalepeños floating in liqueur — an ideal choice for someone wanting some zest in a cocktail. The Monday to Friday Happy Hour extends from 3:00 to 6:00, featuring half-price starters, plus two-dollar-off beers, wines, and cocktails. Every week The Counter promotes Mix It Up Tuesday with a special menu listing four beers, each as the foundation of a “build” with five or six associated food parings.

For anyone who enjoys salads, their Hippy Salad features 100% natural chicken breast, mixed greens, quinoa, herbed goat cheese, alfalfa sprouts, marinated tomatoes, made-on-site garlic croutons, and tossed with Dijon balsamic. A healthy favorite is the Kale Salad made with chicken breast, kale, green cabbage, jicama, celery, Greek feta, and tossed with lemon vinaigrette.

Nothing in The Counter is plain; their Parmesan Fries are flavored with parsley, rosemary, and roasted garlic aioli. They are mouth-watering and, we learned, are prone to become addictive when not consumed in a responsible manner.

We spoke with the general manager, Pam Gillis, and marketing manager, Angenee Tenette and learned that both managers began as table servers. In fact, Pam has been working with The Counter since the 2006 opening day. She said that the owner, Peter Katz, is responsible for a lot of the good energy in the place. “Peter is great!” Pam said with enthusiasm. “He’s easy-to-talk to.”

Employee retention is one of The Counter’s many attractive features. I bought my first burger there the week they opened and when I go there now, some of the same people are waiting on me as were there on my first visits. Servers and managers get to know the names of the regular customers. Pam makes a point of engaging with the guests. Many of them greet her with a “Hey Pam!” when they come through the door. Pam returns the gesture, “It’s a great feeling to see the smile on their faces when you remember their names,” she said.

“I am proud of this restaurant,” Pam said. We could tell she was being perfectly sincere.

It’s easy to like a food establishment when the people waiting on you are proud of the place they work.

Read 2661 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 May 2015 02:08
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