Another high calorie comfort food palace in Pasadena (but also available in many other locations).
The 2008 crash did a number of things to our country. It brought us a Black President. It brought us a new understanding about how our economy actually works. (Well, at least for me it did).
It also brought about a return of Comfort Food, in a big and sometimes slightly expensive way. Places like Go Burger, Umami Burger, and the still-to-be-reviewed Kitchen Twenty-Four are basically your American Diner, Burgers, Fries, Milkshakes, et al, but with the added flair of bar service, and an actual trained chef, cooking your meal to perfection.
So into this morass of High-end High-Calorie Food Palaces enters The Counter, a mostly Southern California-based chain for Burger Joints.
How does it compare to Umami and Go Burger? Believe it or not, pretty favorably. The location I went to feels a bit more Dinery than those other two places. It doesn’t have the sleek Sports Bar feel of Go Burger, or the varying Gallery in a restaurant of the various Umami locations, but it does serve a pretty good burger. I do like the fact that they lean toward a Build Your Own Burger option (see below). They have pretty good Milkshakes, like Go Burger, also have Alcohol, but not full Bar Service.
If anything, it’s a bit more family friendly, and doesn’t have quite the hipster element of those other two places. But you can bring a date here…if you had to (still would lean more towards Go Burger and Umami for that). You can bring your family here, and they serve a pretty damn good burger. How good??
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: The chief thing about The Counter is the Build Your Own Burger Option. So telling what you should get is about as smart as telling what you veggies you should pick at the Salad Bar. So I’ll tell you what I had:
I waded in gently, getting the smallest (1/3 of a pound after cooking) burger on the menu, but went with Organic Buffalo (yeah, they serve that here). It’s more expensive, but it was nice. $3.95 nice? I’m not sure, but I liked what I had. Then threw on two kinds of onions, red and sautéed, some pickles and some spinach.
Okay, already wheeling a bit out of control here. You’re limited to four veggies.
Then, I saw the magic words “Fried Egg”. It cost an extra buck, but c’mon…like there was any way I was going to say no to that.
On top of that, I got the small size of the Tillamook Cheddar French Fries, which weren’t bad, but on further reflection, I’d probably just get the fries.
So. Smallest size Burger. Smallest size fries. Why am I being so cautious this calories in this comfort food palace?
Because I was aiming for a shake at the end of the meal.
Like Go Burger, they make shakes as well. I went for the Apple Crumb Shake which was pretty good. The only thing was it wasn’t as pretty as the Go Burger ones. They just put the ingredients in ye olde blender and chopped them up into a tasty mix. Then again, that could be because I didn’t get the whipped cream.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just be aware that The Counter’s slogan has something to do with “custom built Burgers”, they mean what they say. That means your Burger will not be produced for you instantaneously. Service is not slow by any means, but just be aware, there’s a Cook back there working on your burger, and not factory pressing forty alongside it. A touch more patience may be required.
You should be aware that you can get Alcohol at a Counter, but your choices will be moderately limited. It won’t be a full bar back there. Basically, you’re limited to Beer, Wine, and Beer and Wine based cocktails. Know that going in.
Also, like Go Burger and Arroyo Chop House, The Counter is one of the few California places that has a clue what the hell Medium Rare actually means. So feel free to order your burger, and get it knowing it will come back to you properly cooked.
PARKING: Parking will vary by location, but the Pasadena location where I went to there is a Parking Structure, which is free with validation. Make sure you bring in your ticket to the restaurant.
The Counter (Pasadena)
140 Shoppers Lane
Pasadena CA 91101
Tel: (626) 440-1008
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm