Dining Out: The Counter Custom Built Burgers

When they say “custom built burgers,” they’re not kidding. I had mine with goat cheese, avocado and peanut sauce.

The Counter is part of that trend of build-your-own-meal, assembly-style places. Each person gets a kind of checklist with a little mini-golf pencil. You go through and pick a meat, a cheese, four toppings, a sauce and a bun. I arrived at my strange but oddly good combo choosing what sounded best from each line. The Counter’s website advertises “312,120+ different burger combinations,” but by my calculations, it’s at least 50 million without having to pay for extras. In any case, I think my order actually may be a one of a kind.

We arrived just before 7 on a Saturday night, and had to wait a good 20 minutes to get our party of five seated, the place was so crowded. We spent some time checking out the skateboard and funk-themed art of the walls—they seemed to have a bit of a 70’s SoCal vibe going, perhaps a bit out of place in a fancy suburban Roseville Mall. But they took care of the people who were waiting, offering us sample of the sweet potato fries, which were good enough that we ordered a basket ($4.50) as soon as we sat down. Imagine a French fry that’s naturally sweet.

We’d mostly figured out our orders by then as well. Though you could also order turkey or veggie burgers, as well as grilled chicken, we all went for the beef. It was advertised as hormone and antibiotic-free, which also means it had to be grass-fed for most of its life(cows don’t survive well for long on corn diets without them). You can taste the difference—they fat content is lower. In fact, the growing availability of grass-fed beef has been causing me to eat more of the stuff, after going mostly without for years. The waitress will tell you they like to do the meat rare, so I had mine relatively well done, which went great with my strange combo of flavors.

Burgers came in three sizes: 1/3 pound ($7.95), 2/3 pound ($9.95) and full pound ($12.95). The three females went for 1/3 pound—Joy had hers as a salad, which I should mention is also an option. Conner and I went 2/3. This left me so full that I found myself wishing they’d had a half-pound size—and wondering who the heck ever has a full pound burger.

I wasn’t the only one who went for exotic ingredients. Sofia had her burger with pineapple on it, while Joy’s salad was dressed in a caramelized onion marmalade (though this didn’t sink into the greens too well—one minor problem with the interchangeable burger/salad concept). Other options include feta, hard boiled eggs, apricot sauce, sundried tomatoes…you get the idea. You might think of this place as “California Burger Kitchen,” the whole California concept of mix-and-match, high quality ingredients taken to a new medium.

The burgers were good—but the shakes ($4.95) were better. I had a chocolate/peanut butter malt, about as decadent a thing as you can have without involving sex or drugs.

The Counter is a small but rapidly-expanding chain, with a dozen locations spread across California and another seven on the way. Only seven years old, it’s also in several other states and countries, including a new location opening soon in Saudi Arabia.

The Counter Custom Built Burgers

The Fountains at Roseville
1005 Galleria Boulevard Suite 150
Roseville CA 95678
916 773 2333
Monday-Thursday: 11am-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 11:30am-9pm

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