I've been wanting to go to the counter cafe since it opened, and finally found time to come in Sunday (10/19/08) for brunch/lunch. Excellent poached eggs, and great iced tea (strong but not bitter). All else left to be desired. While parking, my wife and I noticed one of the cooks (with an apron on, no less), sitting on a porch with two dogs. I love dogs, but...sanitary? We thought it was strange.
We were welcomed and sat immediately. Our waitress came within a minute to take our drink order, and asked if we were ready to order. We were not ready, but we appreciated the expediency. Our appreciation stopped there.
I ordered the Counter Benedict, and my wife ordered the 2 eggs plate, with biscuit and sausage. First off, it took an easy 20 minutes for the food to arrive, and we were one of three tables, excluding one table of two waitresses.
Upon arrival, my benedict arrived with tasty pastrami and perfectly poached eggs, but no biscuit, as promised on the menu. Instead, it was served on dry, almost burnt whole wheat toast, with sub-par (packaged?) Hollandaise sauce. The "home fries" were obviously chopped up french fries. For $10, they could have mentioned that their benedict would be served on toast.
As for my wife, she fared worse than I did. A simple cafe order of 2 eggs, scrambled hard, with a biscuit and sausage, was $8. In the spirit of enjoying the fresh, local, Austin grub, we didn't bat an eye. AND THEN, came the food. Eggs ordered scrambled hard were somehow hard-scrambled on one side and semi-runny on the other (scrambled eggs have sides?). One piece of toast (halved), not a biscuit, was served burnt, dry, and cold. No sausage, but bacon.
The owner/manager?, who delivered our food, was a bit combative. My wife meekly mentioned she ordered sausage, not bacon, only to be met with a surly, "The ticket says bacon." She reflectively said we could keep the bacon and would send out the sausage. We were privy to witness her "question" our waitress if sausage was ordered.
The manager/owner? did ask if my wife needed butter or jelly for her burnt, dry, cold, toast. Yes, of course, but when she came to the table, she brought an ice cold butter packet and a large jar of grape jelly containing only the dregs. Upon her better judgment, she returned to the table with approximately 1 Tbsp. of said jelly in a 2 oz. ramekin.
The missing sausage was brought out reasonably quickly, yet massively undercooked. The medium-rare breakfast sausage (need I say MORE), was...inedible.
The service was OK, overall, but the FOOD?, come on! Anyone can get good breakfast/brunch all over town, be it diner, casual, fine-dining, or WAFFLE HOUSE. Don't waste your time or MONEY with the Counter Cafe.