As I've seen reported in earlier messages, the Counter -- Santa Monica's upscale burger joint -- has opened in Palo Alto. They opened yesterday, but today was the first day they served lunch, as it turned out, and I trekked over from my office in Mountain View.
What the Counter's claim to fame is--you may know this already--the choices. I had my burger with cheddar, grilled onion, roasted chile and baby greens, with garlic aioli on a honey wheat bun. Would you rather have a turkey burger with herb goat cheese, roasted red peppers, sprouts and ginger soy glaze on an English muffin? No problem. Carrot strings? Grilled pineapple? Horseradish cheddar? Whatever.
But that's literally dressing. I gotta say, I was curious but had a bit of trepidation from some of the love/hate messages in the LA area board, as well as a couple dismissive replies here. But I'm pretty firmly on the love side, at least with the burger I had today. Good quality beef, cooked medium, and really medium: pink on the inside, crusty on the outside, juicy enough the bun got a bit soggy (I forgive them). I saw some complaints here about the burger being small, but if that was small, these folks are used to bigger burgers than I am. (The menu claims their weights are measured _after_ cooking, not before; whether or not that's true, it certainly didn't seem like less than a third of a pound to me.) The fries were also pretty good--not rave-worthy, but well-cooked, well-salted, and not greasy. They're also pretty substantial--one order is enough for two people, I'd say.
I know one burger isn't enough of a data set to draw firm conclusions on, and as much as I liked the place I doubt I'll fulfill the server's cheerful "See you tomorrow!" when I left. But at the least, I'll certainly be back for more data points!
(Since burgers are pretty subjective, I've also tried Kirk's, Val's, Luka's Taproom, Jeffrey's in San Mateo, Clarke's, Mojo Burger, Quinn's Lighthouse, and the Girl and the Fig. Val's I liked the most, and Clarke's the least--Quinn's just about ties, but probably by virtue of being ridiculously big, served on great sourdough and smeared with garlic butter.)