Thursday, July 2, 2009

Counter Burger

I love language.  With a little knowledge, and a little word dissection, you can gain insight and understanding to more than just the meaning of the words.  Here's a wonderful example: "counter burger".

"counter" - means opposite, against.  Also describes a horizontal surface similar to a table, that is usually elevated more than just a traditional table's height; usually found in kitchens, restaurants, and bathrooms.  

"burger" - traditionally a round, patty shape of ground beef that has been grilled over open flames or sauteed on a metal surface, served on a bun or roll with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, and any other condiment of choice.  

So if you put "counter burger" as the name of a restaurant, one might expect an "opposite experience" that is traditionally associated with a hamburger.  You may also look forward to sitting at a beautiful counter top.

I've been back in Los Angeles for a few days now.  Three to be exact.  And over the past three days, I've eaten at the new Counter Burger in El Segundo's new shopping plaza three times.  You may think this seems a little obsessive and overdone.  But you must consider the experience I've had so far.

On my first day back, just a few hours after landing, my good buddy Johnny Bananas and I were starving, and Aaron and Lindsey didn't have much food to offer.  So we went out for what was supposed to be a quick trip to Whole Foods Market to pick up some amazing fresh produce and snacks.  Before we even made it to Whole Foods, we discovered a little eatery called Counter Burger, and we had to check it out.

It was relatively slow traffic wise when we entered, so of course we had to capture the prime real estate and belly up to the counter bar.  We were heartily and promptly greeted by the bar tender/server.  I was in a good mood (like my fabulous normal self!) and so I introduced myself, and quickly learned that Cortney was her name.  Shortly after, we also met Cory.  Between this amazing pair, Johnny Bananas and I were introduced to our new favourite spot.

 And I must say, Counter Burger is everything the name implies.  Against everything that's normally associated with greasy, dirty, boring burger joints, Counter Burger is a comfortable luxury, with a beautiful stone counter top, modern stainless steel, and loft-like ceilings.  Huge garage style doors line the front and side walls, providing great window views when closed, and inviting the most amazing Californian sea breeze into the space when opened.  

The food was absolutely delicious.  Everything is built and designed by you - from deciding how big the burger will be, to whether or not you want beef, turkey, or a garden burger - you make all the choices.  Nothing pre-made.  Nothing sitting under a heat lamp.  Toppings range from the more interesting and include artisanal cheese selections, every vegetable imaginable from shredded carrots to cranberries, and a huge collection of sauces and spices.  And if you're looking for a more classic choice of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ketchup, and mustard - Counter Burger has that, too.  Plus, there are sweet potato fries, traditional fries, and the most amazingly light, sweet, and crunchy onion strings.  And what is a burger joint without milkshakes?  The most deliciously decadent milkshakes with Dryers (or Edy's for you East Coast readers) ice cream, the most sinful chocolate sauces, and whipped cream.  Other varieties are available, but I highly recommend the chocolate.

Needless to say, after my third trip in just three days, I love the Counter Burger.  Partly for the atmosphere, partly for the food, and partly for the "4 mini burgers and 4 beers for US$12 on Wednesdays with a DJ spinning from 8 until close", but definitely for the service.  I can't say enough good things about Cory, Cortney, and Amy.  Their attentiveness, friendly nature, and zest for life and good times was very much apparent.  I wouldn't say they're overworked, but they are definitely underpaid.  

In our current economic market, stores and restaurants can't afford to not have the utmost quality, service, and customer experience.  I congratulate Counter Burger for identifying and keeping employees who demonstrate this so naturally, so eloquently, and so consistently.  

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