With the weather as nice as it was yesterday, and a Yelp deal burning a hole in my pocket, it seemed a good time to visit the Fountains and get a burger at The Counter. The Counter is a somewhat higher end burger joint where you can choose from a large selection of delicious fixings to build a custom burger. I was first introduced to The Counter in Santana Row down in San Jose by my friend Mason. Just a year or so later and now we have our own here in the Fountains at Roseville.
My friend and I arrived at about 4:15. The Fountains were jamming. Parking was scarce and people were all over the place shopping and enjoying the weather. The Counter was fairly quiet inside. Just a handful of tables were occupied and there were a few people at the bar. We chose to sit outside, which was much busier. There were just a few tables open and we were told we could sit anywhere we liked. We grabbed a table at the very front with a view of the main fountains and roundabout. Our table hadn’t been cleaned off yet so the hostess grabbed a towel and wiped it down for us right away. With that we were given our homework.
To build your burger, you are given a clipboard and pencil and go to work:
Step 1 – Choose from a beef, chicken, turkey, or veggie patty. 1/3, 2/3 or 1lbs. In a bowl or on a bun.
Step 2 – Choose your cheese: Danish Blue Cheese, Greek Feta, Gruyère, Herb Goat Cheese Spread, Horseradish Cheddar, Imported Swiss, Jalapeño Jack, Sharp Provolone, Soft Ripened Brie, Tillamook Cheddar or Yellow American.
Step 3 – Choose up to 4 toppings ($0.50 for additional): Baby Spinach, Bermuda Red Onion, Black Olives, Carrot Strings, Coleslaw, Dill Pickle Chips, Dried Cranberries, Grilled Pineapple, Hard Boiled Eggs, Jalapeños, Lettuce Blend, Marinated Artichokes, Organic Mixed Greens, Roasted Green Chiles, Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa, Roasted Red Peppers, Sautéed Onions, Scallions, Sliced Cucumbers, Spicy Pepperoncinis, Sprouts and Tomatoes.
Step 3.5 – Premium Toppings ($1 each) (this is where is gets really fun): Applewood Smoked Bacon, Avocado, Black Forest Ham, Chili, Fried Egg, Fried Onion Strings, Housemade Guacamole, Sautéed Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
Step 4 – Choose a sauce: Apricot Sauce, Basil Pesto, Chile de Arbol Sauce, Chipotle Aioli, Classic Caesar, Country Buttermilk Ranch, Dijon Balsamic Dressing, Ginger Soy Glaze, Honey Mustard, Horseradish Mayo, Hot Wing Sauce, Lemon Vinaigrette, Mayonnaise, Peanut Sauce, Red Relish, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Russian Dressing, Spicy Sour Cream, Steak Sauce, Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, Sweet BBQ Sauce or Tzatziki Sauce.
Step 5 – Choose a bun: Hamburger Bun, Honey Wheat Bun, Pretzel Bun, Gluten-Free Bun, Rustic Ciabatta or English Muffin.
In addition to the burger they also offer a variety of starters. I almost always get the Trio (fries, sweet potato fries & crispy onion strings). Their regular fries are very thin cut and crispy. The onion strings are light, delicious, and more filling than they seem. I always have to make sure I don’t eat too many before my burger shows up. The sweet potato fries are my favorite, particularly with the horseradish mayo they are served with. They have a light, crunchy batter and are soft on the inside. They’re definitely the best sweet potato fries I’ve had anywhere. You can order a “fifty-fifty” with two of these.
Whenever I come here I feel like it’s my duty to try some ridiculous combination of toppings and flavors. I’ve come up with some pretty crazy burgers in the past. Today I wasn’t feeling quite like my usual blue cheese, pineapple, bacon, grilled onions, fried egg, corn & black bean salsa with spicy mayo burger. Not exactly. Today I went with a 1/3lb beef patty on an english muffin with jalapeño jack cheese, roasted corn & black bean salsa, lettuce blend, sautéed onions, applewood smoked bacon, a fried egg and fried onion strings with horseradish mayo. I almost added the pineapple but decided against it at the last minute. I do think my burger would have been very good with it, though it didn’t feel like it was missing anything in particular.
It was a tower. The waitress commented how she had to be careful so it wouldn’t fall over. First off, I know what what you’re thinking, and no, I didn’t eat this by picking it up. I did give it a shot, but it was too tall and started to fall apart almost immediately, so I had to resort to the fork and knife that is usually provided. This is often how it goes for me at The Counter. The burger was great, each topping had a distinct and strong flavor, and each bite was a bit different depending what I was able to get on my fork. The fried egg was done just right, cooked right past the point of being runny, but not so it was dry and lacking flavor. The bacon was thick and crispy. The only thing I might change about this is that the onion strings were a bit much since I also had them in the Trio. Perhaps swapping them out for the pineapple would be good.
My friend kept it much simpler. He ordered a 1/3lb beef patty with 3x gruyère cheese, scallions, sautéed onions and roasted garlic aioli on an english muffin. Missing from his burger when it arrived were the sautéed onions, but he’s somewhat impatient when it comes to his food and had the entire burger eaten right around the time I took my first bite (no joking, he eats scary fast). He did steal a few stray onions from my plate as he inhaled it though, so at least he got some.
Sometimes the service can be a bit slow here, especially when they get very busy. We didn’t stay for more than an hour as we were headed elsewhere afterwards but our server was friendly and checked on us often for the time we were there. She also got our bill prepared in no time when I asked it as I noticed we should be heading out. I’ve never had bad service or food here before and it’s one of my favorite burger places. The closest competitor, and a very good one at that, is the Relish Burger Bar out in El Dorado Hills. I have been there once and was extremely impressed. I recommend both. Other than the missing onions, this was a great dinner.