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Burger to the rescue: The Counter

photo-42Have you ever gone somewhere for a meal, realized it wasn’t working out and decided to call it quits and get burgers instead?

My family and I did just that recently. We were at a restaurant where the service was slow and the food not very good. Luckily, it was a small-plates format. When our first few dishes eventually came, we were hungry and grumpy. After a few desultory bites, I said, “Let’s get out of here.”

Soon we were at The Counter — a national burger chain with an outpost in Roswell. The idea here is that you build your own burgers by ticking off choices on a checklist. I opted for a beef burger (hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus, purportedly humanely raised) on an English muffin with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, green chiles and scallions. Man, this was a good faceful of food. The diced chiles were kind of bitter, but they mostly fell out of the increasingly messy burger as I ate. At $8.50 without any side items, it’s a little pricier than your average burger, but I thought the quality and size made it a good value.

Plus, these burgers made all my grumpy little women very happy. Big ups for the Counter. We didn’t try any of the fries or shakes, but they sounded good.

I’m curious: have you ever had that “let’s just go get hamburgers” moment?

40 comments Add your comment

Fred

August 24th, 2010
9:47 am

It happens EVERYTIME Mom cooks liver and onions.

Nick

August 24th, 2010
10:07 am

We are regulars at The Counter, and it has always been awesome. The sweet potato fries are great- very thin and crispy, as is their Hobo pack (grilled veggies). While it is more pricey than many other burger places, the added quality is definitely worth the extra price.

I would also HIGHLY recommend Lucky’s Burgers & Brew on Alpharetta St. It’s a new place but has a great atmosphere, great burgers, and fried artichoke hearts- amazing!

Erin

August 24th, 2010
10:12 am

Yes definitely. My husband and I have an agreement that if one of us isn’t “feeling” a restaurant that we just say the words and we’re out. Then head on to one of our stand-by restos, which is usually a pizza or burger place. Life’s too short to waste $ on a bad dining experience.

Monica Ricci

August 24th, 2010
10:14 am

John, The Counter does have really good burgers — I’ll give you that. They’re a little bit proud of ‘em, I acknowledge, which is why it’s not my regular hangout. I just can’t spend that much on a burger every week. The sweet potato fries are ridiculously good too, and they also have free wi-fi, which is nice. I will say I hate those chairs though, and if you go when it’s busy, it’s very loud because there are no soft surfaces.

Chuckles™

August 24th, 2010
10:45 am

Oh yes. Usually, it’s on a Saturday or Sunday around brunch.

Some local restaurants that cater to this crowd limit their menu, without warning, and they still get ‘in the weeds’ so bad that my wife & I share THAT LOOK and slowly back towards the door.

Unfortunately, when you’re starting OTP it’s a bit harder to find non-chain alternatives for brunchy-type items. But we have several spots we seem to fall back to (like The Red Hen in Alpharetta, or the Original Pancake House just down the street) whenever we need a shelter from the storm.

By the way: we’re very happy to see you with this gig. We might not eat many of the same things, or at the same places, but we value your opinion. Except for your stance towards the Coke Freestyle machine. :-D

Leftover Coffee Man

August 24th, 2010
11:36 am

Had a great barbecue burger at the Brockett Pub last week – one of the best I had in a long time.

reservoirDAWG

August 24th, 2010
11:37 am

I was not impressed with The Counter. My burger looked like a meatball on an over sized bun.

SCS

August 24th, 2010
11:47 am

Have had that “moment” several times. I am an adventurous eater, and love to try new places. I’ve discovered a new burger place very close to home that is wonderful, and doesn’t make me feel bloated and gross. A fairly new burger joint opened in Decatur called Farm Burger. It is in the same building as Watershed on Ponce de Leon. The burgers are grass-fed and locally sourced, as is most everything served at Farm Burger, and truly delicious. Stand out tiered list of toppings (including bone marrow, sweet grass dairy blue cheese, etc.) and really great fries. Give it a try, but be prepared to wait in line at peak times!

ITP

August 24th, 2010
11:48 am

Where’s Roswell? And why would I need to leave Atlanta to go there for a burger? YEAH! Burger rocks!

Northside Food

August 24th, 2010
11:58 am

Mmm. I haven’t been to the Counter in awhile. The burgers are pretty good, but the chocolate malted is the best thing ever.

A

August 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

$8.50 seems way overpriced for a burger at a fast casual place, especially if there are no sides or drink. I haven’t tried The Counter based on price alone, although I know a lot of people who swear by the place!

The Big Maru

August 24th, 2010
12:23 pm

Back in the day, it was more likely to be a “Let’s just go to the Varsity” moment.

Joe

August 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

We seem to be having those moments more and more as well. Love Farm Burger in Decatur for the burgers, and the price is definitely good for a small family (although it probably does come close to teh $8.50 after adding in the extras). Their fries are still a “work in progress,” but we love it!

John Kessler

August 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

A – It’s actually table service, not fast casual. I think the price they’re going for is burger/fries or side item/beer or milkshake/tax + tip for $20.

Rodney

August 24th, 2010
12:34 pm

So let me ask y’all a question – “humanely raised”, yet slaughtered and dressed on a bun?

What’s the point in humanely raising cattle if they’re going to become burgers in merely a few years?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m waaay pro-carnivore. Total meat eater. The best place for God’s creatures is right next to the mashed potatoes. I just think it’s kinda ridiculous to worry about the welfare of cattle that are headed to the slaughterhouse.

Any thoughts? Am I missing something?

Vick=Dog killing thug

August 24th, 2010
1:08 pm

Gotta love a good burger

ckwill

August 24th, 2010
1:37 pm

Our moment was Valentine’s Day 2007. My wife was six months pregnant and we had reservations at Trois. We were very excited about eating there, but when we arrived on time for our 8:30 reservation, we were told that the wait would be at least 90 minutes. We decided to bag it and headed to Ted’s, which was much more pleasant. (We liked it so much, we intentionally went to Ted’s the following year, albeit with a 9 month old daughter!)

george

August 24th, 2010
1:37 pm

when i have encountered situations where the service was slow-and the place was not slow because of being exceptionally crowded-i typically speak to the front manager and see if my concerns can be resolved. usually they can though once i changed my order because it took longer to cook what i had ordered and the kitchen was backed up with that particular order anyway. i was always offered a free dessert or glass of wine when this happened as well. if you let your server know in advance if you are in a hurry they should be able to suggest some dishes that can be brought out quickly as well like vichysoisse or gazbacho which are great during our hot weather anyway.

Jeff C.

August 24th, 2010
2:07 pm

ITP-you are such a loser! Got news for you, Atlanta is comprised of a metro area, not just downtown with all the homeless. You should plug Roswell in your GPS and drive ALL THE WAY up 400 to Roswell and check out The Counter.

A

August 24th, 2010
2:30 pm

I thought with a name like The Counter, it would be fast casual where you order at a “counter”! I still think the price is high for what you get.

Kev

August 24th, 2010
2:59 pm

“ITP-you are such a loser! Got news for you, Atlanta is comprised of a metro area, not just downtown with all the homeless.”

Yeah, because there are no homeless OTP. LOL!

ITP does have great, NON-CHAIN restaurants.

Chris

August 24th, 2010
3:46 pm

Yep we usually end up going to Wonderful World by Emory. Great burgers and fries. You can choose from a large variety of unique burger options as well as a few veggie options. Their Teri-Mayo Dog is awesome! Although I prefer to ask them to hold the sea weed. The dill on the fries is really good too. I had never thought of doing that before. But ever since I had some of theirs I always put dill on fries I make at home now.

Art

August 24th, 2010
5:44 pm

With the long drives, the long waits and the oft over-priced mediocre food, we usually hit the “wall” before we even make it out of the driveway. The New York Butcher Shop (I know there’s one in Alpharetta and Sandy Springs) has really good ground beef and an assortment of steaks, chops, etc. Our grill has gotten a lot of use this summer.

John Kessler

August 24th, 2010
5:46 pm

Chuckles – Thanks
Monica – Know what you mean about those metal chairs. My wife was wearing a short, sheer dress and did she let out a yelp upon hitting that thing!
Rodney – I’d like to think the cow grazed on pasture rather than stayed confined in a feedlot.

rod

August 24th, 2010
9:54 pm

Went on a Saturday at 6:45 and waited 1 1/2 hours for a table. The food is ok but is a little high on the price and not worth this long of a wait. By the time you add some fries and drinks you are talking $70-$80 for a family of 4. We have not been back.

rod

August 24th, 2010
9:56 pm

ITP, there is more to life than bums hitting you up, expensive valet parking and crappy streets. We come inside the perimeter to eat but can find good quality out here.

Reds

August 25th, 2010
8:41 am

The Counter is expensive for a burger, but it’s not that much more than Fuddruckers and 20 times better. I go for the beef burger with feta, roasted red peppers, sprouts, organic greens and grilled onions with Tzaziki sauce. They’ve had a market selection of a onion bun recently, but I usually take at least part the bun off and just eat the burger and stuff…. it’s too much food otherwise. We always get the 50/50 fries and onion strings. sooooooooo good. We had the parmesan fries last time we went…. really good. We were hesitant to try it for a while, but there’s just something about a good burger….

And yeah, we do have that “screw this place” from time to time.

Bob from Accounttemps

August 25th, 2010
2:12 pm

Average burger in a below-average restaurant. Nothing upscale about the experience other than the prices. I’d rather spend a little more and go to Flip or a little less and go to Johnny Rockets.

Your kidding right?!?!?

August 25th, 2010
2:28 pm

The Counter?!?! Over priced and just an average burger at best. Service is lacking as well. Now PURE has a really good burger. I have to agree with Bob from Accounttemps if I am going to pay tht price then I am going to Flip.

reservoirDAWG

August 25th, 2010
4:10 pm

Has anyone tried Flippin Out on Jones Bridge? I think that is what it is called.

KikiRodmcgua

August 25th, 2010
6:06 pm

The Counter is Killing me….. Burger, fries, and a shake 16.00 LOL Dude you are in Roswell, not Aspen

Michael

August 25th, 2010
6:06 pm

Why is 50% of the AJC’s food section about the OTP restaurants these days? cumming? roswell? john’s creek? seriously? just like the cookie cutter houses, ITP restaurants are leaps and bounds over the suburban eateries…

KikiRodmcgua

August 25th, 2010
6:27 pm

Micheal your are an idiot. 50% of the OTP restaurants keep the lights on at the AJC

Art

August 25th, 2010
6:53 pm

Michael, because well over 80% of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area lives OTP… and despite your elitist attitude, we know and enjoy good food every bit as well as you and probably better.

Bill W.

August 25th, 2010
7:02 pm

We have burger moments in our family a lot . What could be better? We’ve tried The Counter three times, and I haven’t been impressed. There is something strangely hard about the burgers and they lack any real juice. I don’t think they have enough fat. The toppings make them edible in a pinch, but I rather drive a little to get a better bite of beef.

reservoirDAWG

August 26th, 2010
12:48 pm

Michael is a schmuck.

Joran Van Dersloot

August 26th, 2010
1:23 pm

Har har har!

tiffany

September 3rd, 2010
12:53 pm

i won’t go to this location because it’s way out of my way. but i’ve visited the the counter in studio city, ca, and quite enjoyed it. i suspect burger quality is very dependent on location. and since it IS a chain, and it IS only a burger, i’d rather go to a local, non-chain restaurant such as flip, farm burger, yeah burger, or the vortex.

BehindEnemyLines

September 8th, 2010
1:44 am

I’ve had my share (or somewhat more) than my share of those “to heck with this” moments. I’m just glad to see someone talking food who acknowledges those moments exist without copping any foodier-than-thou attitude about it.

Bob Hater

September 8th, 2010
1:52 pm

So it looks like we’ll never use Bob from Accounttemps, cause he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We go once a week and never get tired of these fantastic burgers.