18 February, 2009
No, it's definitely not a new Burger King in town, but rather El Segundo is the new recipient of the small national chain of customized burger joints called The Counter. Situated in the new Plaza El Segundo among both large and small retail stores and restaurants, The Counter is a welcome eatery in this city of passing-through cars and high-tech high-security military, aviation and telecomm companies. This newest So-Cal outlet to the famous chain hosts the same menu as its brethren, but unfortunately they still have some kinks to work out before it's up-to-par in comparison with the long established Santa Monica location.
Set up like a clean modern diner, the dining room is small but comfortable. Upon being seated you are handed a menu with a number of different options to customize your burger - the kind of bread, meat, and toppings ranging from a roasted garlic aoli to jalapenos to gruyere cheese to red leaf lettuce. Monthly specials are always available, such as the Valentines Day Shake for the month of February, and traditional options such as pre-specified burgers (the Old School or the Unique Veggie will satisfy your traditionalist and vegetarian friends).
Being a newer establishment, things were a bit chaotic at El Segundo's Counter. We were waited by a waitress-in-training, which was fine and dandy but her nervousness and uncertainty made me a bit nervous and uncertain. However, they did not disappoint with the starter of regular and sweet potato fries that my friends and I split. Crisp and fresh, these can be quickly and happily devoured prior to even seeing your burger. Speaking of which, came out pretty fast, which worked great for a group of office workers on a limited literal lunch "hour". My burger, with jalapenos,horseradish mayo and Tillamook cheddar cheese, was pretty tasty, but was overcooked. I ordered it medium rare, which should mean the patty is a bright pink color, but this patty came out with very little pink color at all. Big turn-off in a meat eater's world like mine.
Nevertheless, I understand the woes and issues a new restaurant must face. For now, until the wrinkles are all ironed out, I applaud and welcome the all new Counter to the neighborhood. But if I return in another month and the hamburger is overcooked again, then I will have some major beef.