Back at the end of February, I hit the apple pan which is an L.A. burger landmark. Since then, I’ve been mired in Veggieburgerland, waiting for the right moment to break free. I found that excuse in The Counter’s new Westlake Village location. Until now, the closest location to have one of The Counter’s legendary burgers was Santa Monica. Now that they’ve infiltrated Ventura county, I think I might have to find a way to make their burgers a weekly habit.
The Counter – Lindero Cyn Rd. and Russell Ranch Rd in Westlake Village
I made two visits to The Counter this week. One on opening day, April 6th, and one today. The first time around I had a veggie burger, but today I had beef, glorious, hormone free, humanely raised beef. For those of you who care about such things, The Counter gets their beef from Meyer Farms. Here is their promise to the consumer:
Our cattle are never given any form of hormones, steroids, implants or growth stimulants. We allow our animal to mature slowly for optimal tenderness and marbling.
Our cattle are never given any form of antibiotics. We don’t use antibiotics in feed supplements and we don’t administer antibiotics therapeutically.
We know where our cattle come from. We verify the ranch of origin and much more. All of our cattle are born, raised, fed and processed in the United States.
Our cattle are raised on a strictly vegetarian diet. They are fed only natural feed and rations, such as pasture grass, hay, grains and legumes, and then finished on a corn-based diet for true corn-fed flavor.
Because taste is everything, our cattle are Angus. The breed is known for its superior marbling, juiciness, tenderness, flavor and consistent portion sizing.
Meyer Natural Angus has received the “Certified Humane” designation from the Humane Farm Animal Care organization. This means that our cattle are treated well, given shelter and sufficient space, and allowed to engage in natural behaviors.
Of all the things this company promises, I think the most important are No Hormones/Antibiotics and that they are Certified Humane. I have yet to find another burger restaurant that takes this stance when purchasing beef. It is refreshing to see and it makes it a lot easier for me to spend my money here.
Also, this isn’t just info from the farm, the wait staff at the counter is very knowledgeable and basically told me everything before I had a chance to look at the website. On to the review…
My first Counter visit was on opening day. It showed. It seemed like there were about a billion people working and they were still working out a few last minute kinks. I took a seat at the counter and waited to order. The ordering process at The Counter is kinda like filling out a job application, except instead of checking the box that says “No, I haven’t committed a felony,” you get to check one that says fried onion strings.
I ended up ordering a veggie burger with bleu cheese, tomato, lettuce, green chiles and of course the fried onion strings. I’m telling you, I love me some fried onion. The burger was out quickly and was different from any veggie burger I’ve ever had. It definitely wasn’t frozen. In fact, it had a tough time staying together. Overall though, it tasted good and the toppings were fresh and plentiful.
As far as service is concerned, one of the reasons I wanted to go back was because I felt they didn’t have it all down the first day. It wasn’t bad, just a little disorganized, which is pretty much what I was expecting. The decor is modern, and streamlined. The art on the walls is not really anything I’d pick, but fits with the whole neuvo-diner look they’re going for. The thing I liked about sitting at the counter was that I had a couple of flat screen TVs to zone out on. Also, I got a great look at the 15 wines and 9 craft brews they offer. (They also have draught beer for the non-elitist beer drinkers out there)
My second visit to The Counter far outdid the first. Maybe it’s because I had a beef burger and a Kona Brewing Co Longboard Lager. Maybe it’s because the service was dead on. It might even be because I was really hungry. Still, it was rad.
The decor hadn’t changed in the past 3 days, but I did notice the music this time. A mix of rock and hip-hop that included some old school Snoop Dogg. I’m talkin’ ’bout Snoop back when he was “Doggy Dogg” not dizzle or whatever he is now. It was nice. Made me think about trying to scam on girls in Jr. High. Those were the days…
Also, I loved the fact that my burger was in front of me less than 10 minutes after I ordered it. This time I went with the beef, with lettuce, tomato, green chiles, cheddar cheese and those damned addictive onion strings. Forgive the crappy cell picture, but here’s what it looked like:
Turns out, humanely raised beef tastes way better than the other stuff. This burger was so flavorful that I can only compare it to my favorite burger at Lucky’s in Montecito. It even beats out the Apple Pan, although The Pan gets bonus points for the probability that a fistfight or riot can break out at any moment. Again, the toppings on my burger were more than enough. They are fresh and, I’m told, locally sourced. I’d personally like to shake the hand of the farmer who raises their onion strings. He is a personal hero of mine.
The waitress, Ashley, was spot-on and very helpful. She answered all of my questions, was there whenever I needed anything and was obviously a pro. Clearly they took some time and care with staffing this place before it opened. This isn’t your average bunch of minimum wage high school kids and it shows.
I could go on about how happy I am that this place opened up in my neck of the woods, but rather than do that, I’d just encourage you to check it out yourself. You’ll pay about as much as a burger at Chili’s or Fridays, but what you get in return is enough to make you never go back to those places. At least not for a burger.