I was up in Fountain Valley Saturday for a medieval/renaissance tournament. After a hard day's fighting with swords, I need a good meal before traveling home. Some friends were going to a burger joint, and invited the friend I bummed a ride from and myself to join them.
Where we ended up is a place called The Counter. It's a small chain, mostly in Southern California. We were at the Newport Beach location. The Counter is a build your own burger place. The menu is basically a bunch of checklists. You pick your patty, cheese, toppings, sauces, and bun. The burger doesn't come with any sides, but you can get various fries, salad, or grilled veggies al a carte.
The possible permutations are astronomical. The basic plan gives you a choice of patty, cheese, up to four toppings, sauce, and bun. Patty choices include beef, chicken, turkey and vegan. For an extra cost, bison was also available. There are 11 choices of cheese, from yellow American to blue. There are 22 topping choices, from lettuce, to grilled pineapple, to marinated artichokes. There are also 22 sauce options, from plain mayonnaise, to peanut sauce, basil pesto, up to habanero salsa. Buns range from standard white, to English muffin, to gluten free.
You also pick the weight of the patty. The smallest available is 1/3 lb. All weights are after cooking, which is a little unusual.
The burger was cooked to a nice medium. Hot all the way through, still pink in the middle. The bun was fresh, with a nice chewy texture. The horseradish was not as prominent as I'd hoped, but it was still good.
I ordered a single order of sweet potato fries to go with the burger. They came with a side of the chipotle aioli for dipping. The fries were hot and as crisp as sweet potato fries get, and the aioli was really good.
The burger, fries, and a drink cost around $14. Maybe a little high for a burger, but the quality and variety of the sides and sauces made it worth it to me.
Our waiter was fantastic. We're a group prone to banter, and he gave as well as he got on that front. Did a good job of keeping the drinks filled, and was very organized when it came to splitting the bill.
There are two locations in the San Diego area, Del Mar and Downtown. I may have to visit the Downtown one during Comic-con.