Having heard of The Counter from Yelp, I finally had the chance to visit the Marina Del Rey location twice for lunch with the husband and some of his coworkers.
Based on the crowd inside, this was a pretty popular joint for the lunch crowd. The first time, we managed to snag seats at the bar but on the 2nd visit, we had to wait about a 1/2 hr for tables to open up to accommodate our group of 8.
When you get seated, the waiter hands you a clipboard with a menu and a form. The menu lists sides, drinks and some classic burgers and sandwiches. The form is if you want to go the build-your-own-burger route.
After looking over the menu, I noticed an apple pie milkshake. SOLD! This was an amazing milkshake. Vanilla ice cream blended with real apples, cinnamon, graham crackers, it tasted like apple pie a la mode. Rich, thick, creamy, this shake was everything a milkshake should be. DELICIOUS!
Step 1 – Choose a burger. You have a choice of various sizes of beef, turkey, veggie, and grilled chicken. All beef burgers come cooked Medium unless specified otherwise.
Step 2 – Choose a cheese. There’s a large selection of cheeses from Feta to jalapeño Jack to American.
Step 3 – Choose up to 4 toppings. The list included the usual onions, lettuce and tomato but also had more exotic items like Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa and dried cranberries. There is also a premium topping list which costs a little extra. This includes guacamole, fried egg, bacon and chili among other things.
Step 4 – Choose a sauce. From horseradish mayo to spicy sour cream to a sweet bbq sauce, there’s quite a large variety.
Step 5 – Choose a bun: English muffin, hamburger bun, honey wheat bun. You an also opt to go lo-carb and have your burger served on a lettuce blend or mixed greens.
The Counter - My husband's breakfast burger
The husband did his usual – beef burger with Swiss, bacon and a fried egg on an English Muffin. I call it his breakfast burger. It’s actually really good but ugh, my heart always stops for a moment when I see it. This falls very much into the “comfort food” category…not to be abused but used for those times when you need a hug via your stomach.
The Counter - my custom burger
The Counter - closeup of my burger
I opted for a 1/3 beef burger, Medium, with jalapeño Jack, lettuce, tomato and scallions, apricot sauce on a honey wheat bun.
When our burgers arrived, I had a mountain of a burger sitting in front of me. There was no way I could pick up the entire thing and eat it so I had to cut it in half. As you can see, the toppings all look fresh and the burger moist; however, it looks more medium-rare than medium to me.
The nice thing they do here at The Counter is serve the sauce on the side.
After my first bite, my first regret was not getting the regular bun. The honey wheat bun was dry and the taste was akin to cardboard. As I took more bites, pouring the apricot sauce prior, I realized that the burger itself was fairly bland. Did they not season the patty? When I commented on this to the husband, he agreed that his beef seemed un-seasoned to him as well. Hrmmm…
The Counter - Fifty-Fifty
We also split an order of the “Fifty-fifty” – sweet potato fries and regular french fries. It also comes in an onion ring variation. The fries and sweet potato fries were both good – crispy, not overly oily. I ate more of the regular fries for some reason even though I’m a sweet potato fanatic. The aoli sauce in the back was really good as a dipping sauce.
Overall, the first visit wasn’t as good as I expected. The concept is smart but the resulting burger just wasn’t impressive. In-n-Out has a better tasting burger, I think. However, I would come back here for that apple pie shake any day…
My first visit to the counter receives 3 NOMs mostly for the awesome milkshake.
We returned a few weeks later. This time, I decided to stay away from the beef and go with chicken instead. I, of course, order the apple pie milkshake again. I also noticed that they have monthly specials – a burger of the month, a sauce of the month and a shake of the month. The burger of the month was a lamb burger and while looked tempting, I stuck with the chicken.
This time, I went with a southwestern flair, choosing Roasted Corn and Black Bean salsa as a topping and going with a regular hamburger bun. I have to say, this 2nd burger was a lot better than the first. The chicken had more flavor (is that salt and pepper I taste on it?) and was moist and the salsa was delicious. I may give the beef burger another chance but I would probably try to pick more flavorful toppings as well.
3 NOMs still for The Counter.
The Counter Marina Del Rey
4786 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey CA 90292
Filed under: 3 NOMs, american, burgers, Los Angeles, restaurant review | Tagged: 3 NOMs, american, appetizer, beer, build your own burger, burger, comfort food, dinner, french fries, Los Angeles, lunch, milkshakes, restaurant review, sweet potato fries | 2 Comments »