Another entry in the monstrous food sweepstakes

It’s been six months since I reported on fast-food excess (monstrous burgers and sandwiches) — in a 8/3/15 posting on two entries to the field (from Wendy’s and Arby’s), with links to four earlier postings. Now (thanks to Terry Tenette) I report on a spectacular entry in the competition, which I have unaccountably missed — a lot of popular and commercial culture seems to pass me by — while The Counter, with its burgers, has been spreading from Southern California to around the U.S. (and, indeed, the globe), including to a location in Palo Alto (also San Mateo, Mountain View, and San Jose). From the company’s website, this ad sampling (in vertical strips) five of the Counter’s named signature burgers:


If those burgers look gigantic to you, probably too big to get in your mouth, that’s because they are (and even if you can manage to stretch your jaw and open up your throat — yes, I’m aware of the sexual subtext here — you’ll surely make a huge mess); Terry tells me that you’re advised to eat them with knife and fork.

The ads get even more outrageous than that. Here’s one featuring a burger you can build yourself, from components listed on the menu:


By my reckoning, this jokey leviathan has a big burger, generous cheese, and six, count them, six toppings, plus a bun, which in this context looks totally inadequate.

I’ll get back to named burgers and custom builts in a moment. First a bit from the Wikipedia page:

The Counter is a high end fast casual restaurant chain in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, offering custom topped gourmet burgers. Diners receive a clipboard to “Build Your Own Burger”. There are over 312,120 possible topping combinations.

The Counter was founded in Santa Monica, California, United States in September 17, 1969 by Jeff Weinstein. [It spread at first in California, starting in SoCal.]

… Long-range projections call for as many as 400 to 600 U.S. locations.

From a food review site in November 2013 about a seasonal named signature burger, Not Your Granny’s Turkey ($10.50) (seasonal means ‘in season’, that is, available only at certain seasons of the year):


From top to bottom, it’s stacked with maple-glazed ham, sweet potato hash (which looks like a thin, smashed latke), a seasoned half-pound turkey burger, cranberries, red onion, and spinach on a brioche-style bun. Warm rosemary cream sauce comes on the side.

(Do people get “burgerjaw” from things like this?)

Description of the current seasonal named signature burger, for the winter:

braised short rib burger: braised short rib, layered with housemade pickled red onions, pepperoncini, and spinach; served on a brioche bun with horseradish aioli

For custom-building, you get five choices, plus a choice of sides (and if you want to build something like #2, you can pick, and pay for, more than one item in some of the categories):

1 burger (1/3 lb., 1/2 lb., or 1 lb.): beef, chicken, turkey, housemade vegan, bison, tuna; plus occasional seasonal protein choices, e.g., six-hour, red wine-braised short rib

2 cheese (1, 2, or 3 servings): Greek feta, horseradish cheddar, savory Swiss, spicy jalapeño jack, sharp provolone, Tilamook cheddar, yellow American, smoked gouda, Danish blue, gruyere, herbed goat cheese spread, soft ripened brie, fresh mozzarella, vegan cheddar, shredded parmesan, Southwest cheddar spread [all except one of these names comes with a modifier; what’s up with gruyere?]

3 sauce: apricot sauce, basil pesto, Cabernet mustard, country buttermilk ranch, creamy Caesar, Dijon balsamic dressing, habanero sauce, hickory BBQ sauce, honey Dijon, horseradish aioli, hot wing sauce, house mustard, housemade tzatziki sauce, Korean BBQ sauce, lemon vinaigrette, red relish, red wine vinaigrette, roasted garlic aioli, spicy sour cream, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, sweet sriracha, tangy Thousand Island, Thai peanut sauce [note: no ketchup; hunh?]

4 toppings: alfalfa sprouts, baby spinach, carrot strings, celery, coleslaw, crushed peanuts, dill pickle chips, dried cranberries, fresh jalapeños, garlic croutons, green beans, grilled Anaheim peppers, grilled pineapple, grilled red onion, hard boiled eggs, jicama, kale, lettuce blend, marinated artichokes, Nicoise olives, onion confit, organic mixed greens, oven-roasted tomatoes, pickled carrots and daikon, quinoa, ripened red tomatoes, roasted green chiles, roasted corn & black bean salsa, roasted red peppers, scallions, sliced cucumber, sliced radish, sliced red onions, spicy pepperoncinis, spicy pickles, sun-dried tomatoes

4.5 premium toppings [cost a bit more]: Applewood smoked bacon, Black Forest ham, crispy onion strings, sunny side up eggs, fried pickle chips, housemade chili, housemade guacamole, New Orleans olive salad, parmesan fries, sautéed mushrooms, sliced avocago, smoked pickled jalapeños

5 bun: brioche bun, caramelized onion bun, ciabatta, English muffin, gluten-free bun, grilled sourdough slices, Hawaiian bun, onion bun, Portuguese hamburger bun, pretzel bun, sourdough slices, wheat hamburger bun, whole wheat bun

6 side: shoestrong fries, sweet potato fries with horseradish mayo, beef chili, turkey chili, seasonal grilled corn, various salads (mixed baby greens, lettuce blend, marinated seasonal tomato sauce, coleslaw, quinoa salad)

It is possible, of course, to order just a (smallish) burger on a bun, maybe with a slice of cheese, no sides. But wretched excesss beckons.

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