The Counter impresses in taste, lacks in quality


Rachel Borshchenko

The burger I ordered looked and tasted good, but was not cooked well.

Rachel Borshchenko, Staff Writer

Customizing your food makes everything so much better.

The Counter, located in San Mateo, makes it easy to get exactly what you want on a burger, and avoid exactly what you don’t.

The restaurant, conveniently located just across the street from the Hillsdale mall, is frequently packed with hungry customers. The wait time for a party of two at around 6 p.m. was 15 minutes long, although the seats at the counter were open seating.

Options on the menu include salads, fries, and premade burgers, but the most popular choice is the “make-your-own” burger.

Rachel Borshchenko
The create your own burger menu allows customers to simply check off which toppings, sauces, and cheeses they want.

Since I felt like there was no point in coming to a custom burger place and not ordering a custom burger, I did just that.

Even the protein is customizable, so I opted for the traditional beef patty while my friend had turkey. I added cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, and a variety of toppings like caramelized onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and olives. Lastly, I opted for a side of garlic parmesan fries, which are listed as an appetizer on the main menu but can be made in a smaller portion.

The service was fast, and tables even had small electronic buttons you could press to request service, refills, or a check. Though convenient, this did make the restaurant seem a lot less upscale (though it is a chain).

The food also came out quickly and looked delicious.

I had already ordered the garlic parmesan fries in the past, and they lived up to my expectations once again. The fries were creamy and topped with crispy parmesan. That dish never fails to impress; I would come back to The Counter just to eat them again as my main course.

Rachel Borshchenko
One of the burgers, the turkey burger, was cooked perfectly.

The burger was a different story.

I had asked for caramelized onions, but what I got were huge onion rings that were hardly cooked. They were so big and thick in my burger that I could not eat it and had to take the onions out. Still, this was a small complaint that I can look past.

My burger was supposed to be cooked medium, but as I bit into it, I noticed it was a bit pinker than I would have liked. As I continued to eat, I saw that it was raw on the inside.

Yes, the toppings, bun, and sauce on my burger were delicious. But this was a burger restaurant, and I expected them to be able to cook a burger to the right temperature. This was not a one-time mistake, as I had eaten undercooked meat there in the past.

Aside from the cook on the meat and the onions, everything else was great. The Counter is definitely worth a try, especially for the fries, which are to die for. But be careful, because the cook on the meat isn’t their strong suit.

[star rating= 3/5]