19 June 2017

Your Burger, Your Way

Those of you who know me know that I love food, in any format. I love pasta, pizza, America food, and high up on the list of foods that I love are burgers. I love burgers, especially fresh made burgers. Recently I had the chance to visit Glasgow's newest burger bar, The Counter, located at the The Quay, for their VIP 

The Counter is a brand new, American burger bar that has just opened up in The Quay in Glasgow, only a short walk from the bustling city centre. The Counter first opened its doors in 2003 in Santa Monica, US. When you visit the Glasgow branch you'll notice that one of the feature walls shows the background of the Santa Monica pier, a nod to the chain's beginnings. This branch of The Counter is the chain's first store in Glasgow, and indeed the first store in all of the UK. Scotland is a country well known for it's food and drink culture, so where better to kick start off your brand in the UK than in the heart of one of Scotland's biggest cities?

When I arrived at the restaurant I was blown away by the interior, the store is a good size for being the first branch in the country. There is a good sized bar by the entrance, tables and booths that are well set out, and you can even see into the kitchen and watch the food being cooked and prepared. One of my favourite aspects of the interior was the fact the the one of the restaurant's outer walls looks out onto the River Clyde, it was beautiful. The restaurant seats up to 100 people, which is a really good size for a first location in a new city!

I attended the lunch with my best friend Robyn, and when we first arrived we were greeted by the incredibly friendly staff from The Counter and offered a section of of free cocktails and mocktails to try. Robyn and I both tried cocktails, Robyn got herself a Gin and Tonic, while I got the Counter Mule, which was kettle one, ginger beer and fresh lime juice. We found a nice little table and enjoyed out drinks, they were delicious. Both were refreshing and light.

While were sipping on them a waitress came around with a tray of milkshakes. There were a few on offer on the day, but of the ones on offer I tried out the Banana Split and the Butterscotch Coffee. I love milkshakes, and for me these were both winners. The banana split flavour was amazing, it had a real prominent banana flavour, but it wasn't overpowering which I liked. It was also super smooth, which was a bonus for me as I find that some banana flavoured smoothies can be very thick with chunks of banana, and while I love bananas, a smoothie is for drinking, not eating! The butterscotch coffee flavoured smoothie was literally heaven. I'm a big coffee person, and I love iced coffees, so naturally a cold coffee smoothie is right up my alley! This flavour was definitely my favourite of the two flavours. It was such a rich coffee flavour, but it wasn't so strong that it out you off. It was also incredibly smooth, and there was a lovely sweet taste from the butterscotch to cut through the strong coffee. It was amazing! Later on in the evening we tried out some of the mocktails, which were also incredibly delicious and refreshing.

After a short while of tasting the drinks, everyone was called over to the large open area by the windows, where seats had been set up. It was then that we were given the chance to hear all about The Counter from is founder and CEO, Jeff Weinstein, who had kindly made the journey all the way from America to launch the new branch. Hearing Jeff's story of The Counter really helped give a sense of backstory to the restaurant, as it was clear he has a have passion for this food and his brand, which really showed when it came to tasting the items. I love that we got to hear directly from the owner, as it made the who event feel a little more special.

Jeff explained his vision for The Counter to us, it was all about having the burger that you wanted. One that was custom made from bun to toppings with only the ingredients you want. This is a concept I can really get on board with. How often have you gone into a burger joint and had to ask for you burger without certain ingredients? Or had to ask to have specific items added on because it doesn't come with them? The Counter eliminates that issue right from the start, as you choose everything about your own burger, or you can even have your burger served in a salad bowl if that's what you want. You're given a check list when you go in the door, and its as simple as choosing your bun, (or type of salad!), your meat, cheese, toppings and sauce, and hey presto, you have the perfect burger for you, custom made to your preference. What's could possibly made that better? I'll give you something, all of your toppings are free. That's right, free. So whether you want just a little dash of lettuce, or you want every topping on the list, it all costs the same. The only thing you'll pay extra for is if you want one of The Counter's few luxury toppings that they offer. With all of the amazing options they offer, there are over 1 million possible burger combinations you can make! However The Counter also offers a mena with pre-made options if you would prefer to just choose one instead of making your own.

Your options:
5 types of bun OR a choice of salads
6 types of burger
34 toppings (26 regular and 8 premium)
14 cheeses
23 unique sauces
9 sides

If it was me choosing my perfect burger, I would have a ciabatta bun, southern fried chicken, lettuce blend, carrot strings, dill pickles, fried onion strings, American cheese, and mayo, with a side of sweet potato fries.

After a short talk from Jeff, and from the regional manager there was a short Q&A before we headed back to our seats. At this point staff were circulating with more drinks, and some samples for us to taste, which included a sample of one of The Counter's 'burger in a bowl' dishes, and 3 of their signature burgers These were the Un-BRIE-lieavable burger in a bowl, the Old School burger, the Southern Fried Chicken burger and the Chipotle Turkey.

The first dish I tried was the Un-BRIE-lieavable burger in a bowl. I was very intrigued by the concept of a burger in a salad bowl, so I was glad we got to sample one. If you know me you know that I'm not a huge fan of beef burgers, I rarely eat them as I find they are often too thick, dry on the inside and often have a tough well cooked outer layer and then are bland on the inside, so I was skeptical. I can honestly say I've never been more pleasantly surprised in a burger, this was phenomenal. The meet was the perfect thickness, and it was so juicy and packed with flavour, and the texture was soft and melted in your mouth all the way through. I'd go so far as to say it's the first and only time so far that I would genuinely consider buying a beef burger from any of the restaurants I've been to. The perfectly cooked meat also worked so well with the fresh bed of salad, so I was definitely impressed with the concept and the ingredients with this dish.

Next up was the Old School which is a classic beef burger. After trying the beef burger which came in the salad bowl, I was excited to try it on an actual burger. Again, I was really impressed with the burger. I was cooked jsut as perfectly as the one in the salad bowl had been, only this time it was paired with a classic Brioche bun, cathedral city cheddar cheese, The Counter relish, lettuce blend, tomatoes, red onions and my favourite ingredient of all, pickles. The burger tasted as good as it sounds, and when we were offered a second one (the portions were all mini samples, I'm not that greedy honest), I took it. It was delicious, and the ingredients complimented each other perfectly.

The third dish we tried was the Southern Fried Chicken burger, which was definitely one of my favourites. I love southern fried chicken, and I loved the combination of flavours on this burger. The burger came with a nice creamy sauce but also with jalapenos on it which I love, as I love jalapenos. The combinations of the creamy sauce, crispy chicken and the spice from the jalapenos was amazing. One thing I noticed that really impressed me was that the jalapenos were much spicier than the ones I usually get at restaurants, which to me showed that every ingredient used was incredibly fresh, a huge bonus in my book as the fresher the ingredients, the better the taste.

Lastly we got to try the Chipotle Turkey burger which I was beyond excited for. I have heard of turkey burgers before on TV and in movies, but I had never seen one on a menu before. The burger was absolutely amazing, I think it might have been my favourite of the ones we tried. The turkey was so soft and flavourful, and it has such a nice kick from the chipotle sauce and the red chilli cheese, but it wasn't overpowering, it was just right. The burger came with cranberries on it, which I picked off, and its the only thing I would have chosen to leave off, but apart from that the burger was incredible, and I would definitely recommend trying the turkey burger if you pop along, as I know I would eat it again.

Overall I know that The Counter is a place where I would eat time and time again. The location is about a twenty minute walk from the city centre, but for me the food is definitely worth it. Not only do I absolutely love the concept of building your own burger the way you want it, but the quality of the food and the atmosphere in general was amazing.

Have your tried out The Counter yet? What would you have on your perfect burger?

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