Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Counter, Carlsbad

Considering May is National Burger Month - whatever that means - it seems apropos to conclude it with a burger write-up.
And if nothing else, it makes for an effortless lead-in.

Located on the eastern side of the I-5 in Carlsbad is one of two The Counter burger joints in San Diego County. Both this one, and The Counter located in Oceanside, like all their other Southern California counterparts specialize in truly “Have-it-your-way” hamburger scenarios. Upon sitting down, guests are presented with a clipboard and a checklist sheet with which to construct the burger of one’s dreams. While this will satisfy everyone, just because they can have it all, the Spiderman mantra is true: With great power, comes great responsibility.

While a seemingly endless list of ingredients, which includes the likes of fried eggs (extra), hard boiled eggs, roasted corn, and dried cranberries seems like a grand idea, it’s fairly easy for the average burger eater to compile a list of all of their favorite things and end up where I did during my first visit to The Counter: An indiscernable mess, which makes for illogical eating.

In fact, there’s a reason why aside from the usual cheeseburger, we leave the designing to the experts. It takes skill to create good taste.


During a second visit, I opted for both logic and restraint, but mostly just modeled my sandwich after an Ortega Burger. Jalapenos, and green chilies, naturally complemented the creaminess of Swiss (think chile rellenos); An English muffin served as more porous for a runny yolk, and a side of horseradish mayo would provide just the the tang necessary to brighten the cheese and egg’s mild taste. This, of course, is work.


And if that doesn’t strike your fancy, The Counter also serves wonderfully built predesigned signature burgers, such as the Greek Burger, complete with feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.


Along with sweet potato fries and onion rings, TC serves parmesan shoestring fries, which are a tasty selection, but a little too skinny for anything other than a fork.


Burgers, which start at under $9 are juicy when served at the medium doneness the house suggests.


For dessert, the apple crumble ala mode makes for great sharing. While you’ll first find it unmanageable and overpowering in size, before you know it, light and almost airy, it’s all gone.


For a gourmet burger joint, The Counter is affordable: Two burgers, a beer, fries, and dessert came in at under $36, comparable to what one might pay at Fuddruckers.


The Counter’s ambience is busy and complemented by relatively loud and high energy music. The service is friendly, eager to please.


The Counter
Del Mar Highlands Town Center
12873 El Camino Real Suite M4
San Diego CA 92130

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