I happened to be down near my husband’s office around lunchtime today, so I surprised him by calling and saying, “I know I packed you a yummy homemade lunch this morning, but don’t you want to get out of the office for a bit … and take your wife to lunch instead?”
Luckily, he didn’t have a schedule conflict … so he was happy to oblige
I made a suggestion as he hit the car … and got instantly outvoted! It seems that he’d just gotten his Friday afternoon massage–one of the perks of working there–and the masseuse apparently spent the entire time raving about a new burger place nearby: The Counter: Custom Built Burgers!
It only took him a second to convince me
We didn’t realize it when we walked in the door, but The Counter is an international chain, with locations in Ireland and Australia, and then stretching across various parts of the U.S. … from Times Square … all the way to the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Parking is often scarce in that area, so–lunchers, don’t despair–we found plenty of places to park right in the free parking structure beside the restaurant. The Counter‘s located in the same new retail structure with Trader Joe’s, right beside the north end of the Ballard Bridge, or–for those of you who need the street address–it’s:
The Counter reminded me instantly of so many other trendy new Seattle restaurants, all glass and stainless steel.
We also found a seat with a great view of the Ballard Bridge, which–as usual–was merrily going up and down … and slowing the traffic to a crawl on 15th Street. We didn’t worry about it, though. The smells at The Counter were keeping us focused on food.
The Counter‘s menu contains a few suggestions of classic burger combos, but their main focus is a burger that you design for yourself. They hand you a check-sheet and a stubby pencil, and you start with the meat. You can choose from beef, chicken, turkey, veggie, or the “market selection” of the of the day, which–today–happened to be bison. Then pick a size: one-third pound, two-thirds pound, or one-pound. In addition, you can choose to have your burger on a bun (hamburger bun, honey-wheat bun, English muffin, or the market selection of the day: rustic ciabatta) or in a bowl of greens, salad-style.
From there, you have a choice of cheeses (a solid dozen, in fact: care for soft ripened brie or an herbed goat cheese spread for your burger?) … a dizzying number of toppings (twenty-one in total … everything from hard-boiled eggs to roasted corn and black bean salsa … and that’s not counting nine more premium toppings) and enough sauces (twenty-one) to make any combination sing.
While my husband was busily scratching selections on his card, I happened to notice the Market Select Signature Burger on the bottom of the daily-menu placard. It featured a lamb burger that made my mouth water instantly.
I grabbed our waitress, and–after confirming that I could indeed do a customized lamb burger–I filled out a card, handed it off, and then turned my attention to the starter we ordered: Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Fries.
They were every bit as rockin as they look! If I had to take one tiny point off, I would have liked a somewhat sharper, more flavorful cheddar … but that’s a tiny demerit against one of the more excellent plates of fries I’ve enjoyed in the last decade or so. They were lovely, hot, crispy and delicious … but I almost ate too many of them before the main stars of the meal arrived.
My husband opted for the beef burger, dressed out nicely on one of their fresh ciabatta rolls, with a side of honey mustard to throw a little sweetness in with those excellent caramelized onions, that meaty tomato slice, and the bite of sharp provolone.
His burger, however, paled completely next to mine
OH, MY!!! Just look at that! A spiced lamb burger, freshly ground on-site–like all of their burgers–seasoned with just the right amount of garlic, marjoram, and rosemary … and then grilled to a perfect medium-well. From there, I had them put it on a simple hamburger bun, and then dress it with tomatoes, feta cheese, caramelized AND raw red onions … and then I topped it all with cool and creamy tzatziki sauce.
My burger was moist and tender–not a grisly bit in it–and the overall flavor was even better than my description. In fact, I took half of it home … and ate it for dinner, too! It was THAT good!
Final score: Oh, we will DEFINITELY eat at The Counter again! They earned a solid A from me, right out of the gate … and I can’t wait to get my friends there to try it, too. After all … if we like a restaurant, we want it to succeed … so we take/send all of our friends there!