You can say that there’s enough burger joints in Riyadh already, because indeed, there are. In fact, inquisitions and comparisons have been made with each and every single one and still, many burger places continue to sprout amidst the “foodies’-sphere” of the city. Dun-dun-dun-dun! Say hello to the new kid on the block: The Counter.
It looks like it’s one of the franchise chains that was first spotted in Jeddah have finally found its way in the streets of Tahlia here and Riyadh and there’s not quite of a splash really, to notice that they have arrived. I went in there last night to find out why.
The Counter is originally a US brand that basically caters to the “custom built burger” audience. They highlight the use of “antibiotic free beef” and has an extensive list of ingredients that you can choose from including buns made of brioche or scourdough toast OR adding on kale or quinoa to your burger bowls.
Looking at the interiors and the initial vibe of the place, I can’t help but feel that it’s a bit bland and quite stiff. The dining area is indeed spacious and it’s quite reminiscent of a diner-style place but there’s something about the place that need livening up. Maybe some house music or a bustling energy of some sort? It leaves me lacking.
Anyway, unto to the food. Since it was my first time there, I did not opt for a totally customized burger although, I did a “modified” version of one of their staple items. But before that, we ordered drinks and starters first.
Originally the Trio was made up of fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings. However, the Parmesan Fries on the menu intrigued me so I asked the waiter to make a trio that would include the parmesan version so that I could give it a try (a little bit of everything if you will). While it was a tad bit on the oily side, we thoroughly enjoyed the depth of flavor brought upon by the parmesan cheese to the fries while the sweet potato fries were indulgent and I could literally feel the carbs being absorbed by my body as I munched on every bite. The onion rings though were a little meh’ for me.
We also read about their seemingly exotically named smoothies on the menu: Hollywood Hula and the California Dreams. While they may have sounded enticing, they certainly didn’t wow us presentation-wise.
The good news is, whatever it is that they lacked in presentation, they certainly made up for it in the taste. Definitely no syrup water in this one (just raw brown sugar as I was informed) and it’s made with fresh fruits so the flavors were really good.
As for the burgers, my friend ordered the Old School Burger which was made up of hormone and antibiotic free beef, tillamook cheddar cheese, a slice of red onion, lettuce blend, red tomato, relish and sandwiched in a brioche-style bun.
True to its name, this is a classic burger with a heavy patty that’s sure to fill you up as a steak would. The bun was soft and nestled the ingredients well (something I always look for in a burger is a bun that holds up to the patty and everything in between). Not much to wow about except the tenderness of the meat.
Meanwhile, I had a ‘modified’ version of their signature burger called, of course, The Counter Burger. It had the same hormone and antibiotic free meat patty, crispy onion strings, lettuce blend, sauteed mushrooms, ripe red tomato and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette on a brioche-style bun. My special add on was beef bacon, coz hey, everything else tastes better with bacon. Am I right or am I right?
Interestingly enough, after tasting my order, I realized that it wasn’t the bacon that made the burger pop as much as I had expected it to but it was the sauteed mushrooms that intensified the otherwise regular taste of the burger. I set aside the onion strings as I didn’t care much for it and ended up using a fork and knife to finish it all off because it was quite huge. I ended up using the bacon instead as a “chaser”, if you will, after each bite just to punctuate it with on a good note every time.
Overall, I’d say there’s so much room for pizzazz in this place for it to really give it the attention that it deserves. It needs to feel hip and lively, somehow. Service-wise, our first waiter was quite unsure of himself and wasn’t as articulate as a service crew should be. He kept referring to the senior waiter regarding my questions which ended him being the one to wait on us instead of him. The first one might have been a trainee but hey, even trainees can leave an impression on your diners. Also, while their food was generally good, I’m not sure how enticing it is to see the word “antibiotic” in my food, even though it actually denotes something healthy. ‘Just my opinion. On the up side though, they certainly have all the ingredients and options available for the kind of burger that you wanna come up with so the possibilities are endless, I’ll give you that.
Anyway, that was my something new for the day. As they say, you won’t know unless you try. 🙂
Instagram and Twitter: @TheCounterKSA