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We all know where to go if you want to hold the pickles or hold the lettuce. But what about if you want to add roasted red peppers, corn and black bean salsa or grilled pineapple? If the same old burger doesn’t do it for you anymore, then head to The Counter in Walnut Creek to create a custom-made burger.

Established in 2003 (actually anti-established, according to their Web site, to buck the run-of-the-mill burger place trend), The Counter has franchise locations in nine states and two countries providing diners with an alternative to the classic burger joint. Mix and match from their list of fresh, somewhat exotic and mouthwatering ingredients to create more than 300,000 possible combinations.

Located on North California Boulevard, away from Walnut Creeks’ restaurant row, some friends and I arrived at The Counter and parked right in front, which I always find to be a good omen. Despite the excellent parking, we had to wait a few minutes for a table as the restaurant, which is stocked with chrome accents much like a '50s garage complete with a roll up door, was packed.

While my friends and I waited, we perused the menu, which is a clipboard that comes with a stack of order sheets so that diners can customize their burger.

Once we were seated, the real work began.

Step one is to choose your meat. The choices are beef, turkey and grilled chicken. Or go meatless and order a veggie patty. Then choose your size from a one-third, one-half or the giant one-pound burger options and decide what you want it on, a bun or an English muffin. Prefer to go bun-less? Opt for the burger in a bowl atop a lettuce blend instead.

I decided on the one-third beef patty on a bun.

Then comes the cheese. One type of cheese is included in the price of the burger. I selected horseradish cheddar from the list of 10, which included Danish blue cheese, which I noted for next time.

Step three is choosing the toppings. Four are included in the price. Extra toppings are available for about 50 cents each. Bacon, avocado, tomatoes, fried onion strings, pickles, carrots, dried cranberries and just about everything you could think of putting on a burger are available, as well as some that I would never dare to – like hard boiled eggs or black olives.

Since everyone is responsible for creating their own burger, questions like “will grilled pineapple go with sautéed mushrooms?” becomes a concern that only your taste buds can answer. I decided on roasted red peppers, a lettuce blend, grilled onions and tomato.

Next comes the sauce. I was correct in my assumption that sun-dried tomato vinaigrette would go nicely with my toppings.

My burger was great – as were the other burgers that we had that evening. Although even the one-third pounder was too big for me to pick up and eat, I got through it with a fork and a knife.

To go with out burgers, we ordered The Counter’s yummy trio of french fries, sweet potato fries and onion strings along with a bottle of very reasonably priced, locally produced Thomas Coyne Merlot.

If building a burger isn’t your idea of fun, The Counter does have a short list of Signature Burgers and sandwiches. There’s also a burger of the month. November features a Greek inspired lamb burger with feta cheese, fried pepperochinis, Bermuda red onion and tomatoes with Tzatziki sauce.

Build your own burgers start at $8.50. Signature burgers start at $7.50 and sandwiches are in the $6 - $8 range. -JF


Find The Counter at 1699 North California Boulevard in Walnut Creek. For more information, call 
925 935 3795 or visit www.thecounterburger.com.

Last Updated (Friday, 27 November 2009 15:05)


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