The Counter – Mansell Road Roswell

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Sticker shock.

If there’s a first impression most folks get at The Counter, this is it. That was certainly the case when they first opened. Many wrote off this California chain, not expecting them to last but a few months.

It’s been five years now and The Counter is still flipping burgers. In the meantime countless fast-casual burger concepts have opened or are planning to open in the Atlanta burbs. Yet these guys are still around, making one of the better burgers in the area and charging a pretty penny for it.

How many pennies? Their basic burger starts at $7.50. This is combo price at some joints. Not here. This price is before cheese, fries, premium toppings and drink. And since they are a full-service restaurant, you’ll need to factor in a tip. Expect to pay upwards of $15 per person for a basic burger meal.

But if you’re serious about trying one of the better hamburgers in north Fulton, fork out the dough. The Counter’s burger should make most best-of lists. They cook an 80/20% fat ratio Angus burger. I like mine cooked medium-well but they’ll do medium without hesitation. Despite the extra cooking time, my burger wasn’t the least bit dry as Angus often is.  I also liked the sear on the patty.

What interested me the most on this return visit was how their menu has changed over the years. Their burger bowls caught my attention. These are part deconstructed burger (sans bun for the gluten challenged) and part hamburger salad.

I settled on the backyard barbeque bowl. What ingredient didn’t this thing have? A bed of lettuce and greens  held some chopped ham, cole slaw and a hamburger patty with horseradish cheddar cheese. On top a generous helping of fried onion strings buried the burger. Ranch dressing and a slightly sweet barbeque sauce were on the side.

The barbecue sauce really didn’t belong in the bowl as much as the ranch. I left it off and thus abandoned the barbeque aspect of the dish. Then again, many from California might consider a burger “barbeque”, but that’s a topic for another article.

In the end this was a delicious hamburger salad. I had hoped for more of a horseradish punch but it wasn’t there. The onion straws brought some nice texture to the party and complemented the creamy ranch dressing.

Would I order the backyard barbeque bowl again? Probably not with the $14.50 price tag.

So what’s completely unique here and totally worth paying for? Wine milkshakes.

There are some things that should never mix with dairy. The thought of marrying pinot noir with ice cream sounds so wrong, but it tastes oh so good. On the menu they call it chocovine. It’s basically a cherry chocolate milkshake with nearly a full serving of a California pinot noir. It’s comes from the bar in a pint glass with chocolate drizzled on the inside and whipped cream. Don’t expect a thick milkshake here as the wine thins it out a good bit.

On the first sip your taste buds experience a gentle warming effect from the wine. It confounds the senses a bit as they try to process the cold shake. The cherry flavor complements the wine and makes this a very drinkable dessert. Priced at $8.50, it costs about the same as a glass of the wine itself. It’s a unique idea that isn’t being tried elsewhere.

The Counter: Custom Built Burgers on Urbanspoon

So what’s the verdict on The Counter? After five years they’ve still got it in terms of burger prep. Is it the best burger in north Fulton? Probably not but they might finish on the medal podium. If you’ve still not been here you owe yourself a visit, but their prices are likely to keep you from becoming a regular.

I received a free meal from this restaurant. You can read my disclosure policy on my about page.

6 Responses to “The Counter – Mansell Road Roswell”

  1. A January 18, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Great review, Lee. We went once, with a Groupon, a couple of years ago. Even with the Groupon we ended up shelling out much more than expected, and specifically due to the high prices we have not been back and have no plans to return. But glad to hear they are doing well.

  2. Em January 18, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    So, where do you feel *does* have the best burger in the area? We used to love Flippin’ Out, but they’re long gone.

  3. Jay January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I love this place! Their beef is what I love the most about this place, it’s 100% natural red angus, and it’s hormone and antibiotic free. My son and I are allergic to gluten and they have a variety of different options for us to choose everytime we come. Whether it’s to build the burger in a bowl (like you did) or they use a good brand of Gluten Free Buns (UDI’s) or some days I just enjoy my burger without the bun. They will cook my burger medium rare and it’s cooked perfectly everytime I order with a warm red center which most burger places I’ve been to in the past couldn’t seem to ever get it right. I don’t mind paying the extra cost for the great quality of the product they serve. I always feel like it’s worth my money everytime I come. You get what you pay for. The portions are so big for the price they charge, I always end up taking half of my burger/fries home most of the time. I also have friends who feel like this place is “pricey for a burger joint” I tell them they can go to McDonald’s or Burger King. A reg burger is 7.50 plus fries 1.50 that’s $9 and they know where their meat comes from and how the cows are fed and their diet, unlike these other places. Just saying, people should expect to pay more for better products

  4. J January 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Em the wife and I would say Scratch and then Ted’s Buffalo burger.

  5. Lee January 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    @Em – Maybe we should revisit this topic… best burger. I’ve always liked the burger Kozmos Gastropub makes, mainly because of the cuts of meat in it.

    I agree that Flippin Out was a terrific place, as was Jonathan’s next concept, Burrito Gorilla. I liked both far better than his Italian joint now, which seems to be pretty popular. Go figure.

  6. phatnate January 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    I ate there once. Ordered a burger, onion rings and a shake to go. It cost $20 for the meal. It took them 35 minutes to make my order. It was not during a busy period at all, there more employees than customers. They did not apologize when I complained, and copped an attitude and told me that’s how long it normally takes. Packaging made the burger seem like it was some kind of Gucci burger and I am sure that added a few $$$ to the price. Won’t ever go back.

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