October 12th, 2010
The Counter: A Burger Dissertation
These days, it seems that there are a ton of places that have decided to let you write down your own order. Which Wich? and Bullritos immediately spring to mind. With this being the new fad in casual dining, I guess it wasn’t long before someone paired this new ordering concept with the ultimate in casual dining, the burger. Recently opened on Washington Avenue, The Counter obliges our need for control and our love of custom built burgers.
With a name like The Counter, I naturally assumed that I would walk in and place my order at, you guessed it, a counter. That’s not the case. As you walk in, you are immediately greeted by a host who asks whether you would like to sit inside or out. We chose to sit inside to get a better vantage point for pictures, but now that the weather has cooled off, the outside patio that runs along the side of the building isn’t a bad option and is generally crowded on the weekends.
The clean and contemporary decor inside provides a warm and welcome place to enjoy a burger. You can sit at a table, booth or even chow down the counter, which also serves as the bar. The hanging ball lamps and the floor to ceiling windows make sure that the space well lit and inviting. They have two TV’s above the bar, but don’t mistake this as a sports bar. That’s next door. The pictures stretched across canvas that decorate the walls add a little bit of character to the space and they all have a decidedly Texas feel, with wide open highways and guitar slingers.
As we were shown to our table, we were presented with two clipboards that had pre-printed sheets of paper with an overwhelming number of choices. For people who have trouble narrowing the options, they have a list of signature burgers on the actual clipboard, along with the rest of the menu, which includes appetizers, non burger entrees and desserts. I decided to immerse myself in the experience and work my way through all of the toppings as I crafted my burger.
The first choice, which is a refreshing change of pace for a place that builds its reputation on burgers, is a choice of protein. The Counter offers Beef, Chicken, Turkey and even a Veggie burger, which is actually vegan. I’m a purist, so I went with the beef. My girlfriend, who laments the fact that I hate Turkey burgers, took her chance to eat healthy. Once you’ve chosen your meat, you have to decide what type of bun you want or whether you want a bun at all.
The toppings are about what you’d expect. They’ve got a ton of different cheeses and sauces and spreads. For the more adventurous out there, they’ve got dried cranberries, grilled pineapple, pepperoncinis or roasted green chiles. They’ve also got premium toppings, which add a dollar for each one you add. The premium offerings include bacon, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and a fried egg.
In the next few weeks, there are going to be 3 burger places with a relatively close proximity on Washington: Christian’s, The Counter and Five Guys. They each have their own niche, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do in direct competition with each other.
When it comes down to it, The Counter is a decent burger in a nice environment. It’s the place you go with some buds to have a beer and a burger after work, when you’re too dressed up to walk into Christian’s Tailgate. As an experience, it’s a step up from the Five Guys that is opening down the road. As a burger, it doesn’t match up to either. Admittedly, I did myself a disservice as I greedily added a fried egg to my burger, which only brought on thoughts of the Rancor. The Counter definitely can’t measure up to my personal king of Houston burgers, but it was my fault for even considering that just putting an egg on it would spruce it up to the heights of the Rancor. I’ll definitely be back, but not before I head to Petrol Station and satiate my real burger craving.
Where – 4601 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007 (View Map)
When – Sunday to Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to Midnight.
What – Burgers designed by you
How much – Burgers Range from $6.75 to $13.00
Web – Thecounterburger.com