The Burger Quest takes us to The Counter, in West Hartford, CT. I had mixed feelings about The Counter. I’ve read some not so flattering reviews about the food. A friend of mine said that when she had eaten there, the burger was dried out. Not a good endorsement for a premium burger establishment.
My wife and I decided to go there for a late lunch. We get there at about two. Not too many people there, so we were seated immediately. The décor is pretty funky. Exposed ductwork, cool greens and browns with lots of silver. There is a lot of glass, which gives the place a bright, cheery feeling. It’s also located on a corner, which helps with the people watching. The server brings our menus and explains how to order. You get an order sheet that allows you to build your own burger. Type of burger; beef, chicken, turkey and yes, even a veggie. Type of cheese, toppings, premium toppings, and even bun. They also have daily specials for each category. I didn’t do the math, but I suspect there are thousands of variations of burgers. For the less creative or those who are unable to make a decision, you can order an off the shelf “signature” burger.
My wife and I start to tick off the boxes. I order a 1/3 lb. after cooking beef patty, with Gruyere cheese, dill pickles, grilled onions, hard boiled egg slices and tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, on a Portuguese hard roll and roasted garlic aioli sauce on the side.
Sal, my wife, orders a 1/3 lb. beef patty, with cheddar cheese, dill pickles, grilled onions, black olives, applewood smoked bacon on a regular bun with Russian dressing. We split a “Fifty/Fifty;” half onion rings, half fries. I go for a Coke, Sal gets an iced tea.
The Counter gets its beef from Meyer Natural Angus. Meyer is another premium rancher that offers humanely raised cattle that are hormone and antibiotic free. You can order steak from them on-line. Four 8oz. New York Strips are selling for $79.15. Filet Mignon more your style? Try four 8 oz. filets for $103.45. Quality, junk free food is costly.
The burgers arrive, but not the o-ring/fry combination. Oh oh. Getting the server’s attention is not easy. We decide to dig into the burgers and continue to try and flag her down. As I bit into mine, I realized that ordering the Portuguese hard roll was a mistake. The burger and its accompaniments start to squirt out the other side. The combination of bacon, cheese, and the other ingredients are good. The burger is perfectly cooked to medium. I gingerly pull a piece of meat off and pop it in my mouth. Good flavor, not great flavor. I’m a little disappointed because the premium beef should have a premium taste. I liked Sal’s burger because of the black olives. A stunning move. The olives added a salty kick and great texture.
We finally flag down a waiter, at this point anyone will do, and ask if he could check on our o-ring/fries. A minute later they come out. The fries are shoestrings dusted with a nice spice blend. They have a great potato taste. Sal likes them better than the 5 Guys fries. The onion rings are disappointing. They are greasy and slightly undercooked. The “Fifty Fifty” is served with ranch and BBQ sauce on the side. I don’t care for BBQ when it’s not served with BBQ, but the ranch dressing was very good.
We get the bill and it totals $31.75 plus tip for two burgers, two soft drinks and fry/o-ring combo. This is a premium price for an okay dining experience. I don’t like it when my meal is not served properly. While the burgers were pretty good, they weren’t great. Unfortunately for The Counter, there are plenty of other premium burger joints competing for their customers. I probably won’t be one of them.