Forget about the Australian citizenship test, fill out the build your own burger form is the only way to demonstrate you are a real true blue Aussie. No, let me rephrase - fill out the form to create your own custom built burger, then devour it like a real Aussie trooper! That's exactly what a pack of hungry food bloggers had in mind. Led by Richard, we all march into The Counter, a newish establishment in Crows Nest for the ultimate burger Battle Royale.
I've been secretly wanting to try this place since I've read all Richard's encounters of those massive burgers. The Counter is an American burger chain which has now expanded to two other countries and we are lucky to have them in Australia. Ireland is the other.
The Counter is not your typical American fast food burger chains. Despite the 80's diner cross surf culture decor, I actually feel like I just stepped inside a clinic with a clipboard being handed over and asked to fill in the form while seated in the waiting area.
It is a 5 parts questionnaire - starting from choosing your burger on a bun or in a bowl, with the choice of patties including beef, grilled chicken, veggie and turkey. Then the voice inside my head is playing devil's advocate, I am convinced that my stomach can handle a much bigger patty then instinctively go for the 30o grams patty option. Richard just has to take that one little step further and opt for the 450 grams monster. Then it is a matter of beautifying the burger with an extensive choice of cheeses, toppings, sauces and buns. With over 312,120 different burger combinations, you can customise your burger with whatever you like, and however you like it and they will construct it just for you.
The drinks are first to arrive. Apart from the burgers, the peanut butter shake is another must try that I am really looking forward to. I always wanted to eat peanut butter out of a jar and this is probably the milder version of performing such impulsive act. The PB shake in the plastic tall glass is thick and sickening sweet in a good way, with the occasional unmelted gooey peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth which is a special surprise. Helen (GrabYourFork) goes for the apple pie shake which indeed tasted just like an apple pie! It is inevitably much thicker than the peanut butter shake, with clumps of apple pieces in the glass makes sucking the shake through the straw almost impossible.
Two serves of The "Fifty-Fifty", with half onion strings and half sweet potato chips are shared among the ten of us. I particularly drawn to the onion rings which is thinly sliced and fried to a golden crisp. I found the sweet potato chips is not as crispy as I had hoped for. It is served with dippings of BBQ sauce, Garlic Aioli and thousand island dressing. The sweet BBQ sauce would be my pick among them all. The ambitious ones in our group also ordered some mini cheeseburgers as starter to share.
After a short wait, the waitress brings out the burgers, calling out our names and hand over the burgers to their rightful owners. For my custom built burger, it is a concoction of spicy Mexican inspired flavour which consists of:
- 300g beef patty - gruyere cheese - toppings: grilled onions, jalapenos, roasted corn & black beans salsa, sweet red hot capsicum - fried egg - country buttermilk ranch sauce - hamburger bun
The burger is way too big to hold in two hands and I have no intentions of eating with knife and fork, hence decided to cut it in half and tackle them half at a time. The hunk of Angus beef patty is nicely cooked to a medium pink, juicy and tender. The slice of gruyere is melted like a Dali painting on top of the patty, which is creamy but very subtle in flavour. The fried egg is rather overdone as I prefer my egg still with a runny yolk. I am very pleased with the topping combination, the grilled onions is sweet, while the jalapenos and red hot capsicum pack quite a punch. The roasted corn and black beans salsa provides the crunch although I found the black beans are a little hard for my liking. The country buttermilk ranch sauce is also very mild and I ended up using the BBQ sauce that comes with the fries.
The sight of Richard's 450gram burger is a heart-stopper. The 450g beef patty sits on a bed of baby greens is obviously way too big to fit in the wholemeal bun he's ordered. The imported swiss is totally melted and wrapped almost half of the patty, topped with a slice of grilled pineapple and grilled onions. I called it - 'The Unthinkable'. Let us simplify the equation - it is a whopping half a kilo of burger he is eating! As I know what this crazy Taiwanese B-boy is capable of (Richard's prior attempt of 600-gram patty!), I am sure he will put on a good show for us.
Helen is probably the only female in the group that goes for the 300g beef patty after considering 150g is for the wuss. She has customised her burger with:
- 300g beef patty - sharp provolone - toppings: beetroot, grilled pineapple, dill pickle chips, grilled onion, mixed baby greens - Extra topping: honey-cured bacon - roasted garlic aioli - hamburger bun
And Suze (ChocolateSuze) goes for the more sensible option and built her custom burger with: 150g beef patty, gruyere and imported swiss, grilled onions, pineapple with roasted garlic aioli on hamburger bun.
I finished the first half of my burger with no trouble and so does everyone else. But this fun idea of gluttony indulgence has soon turned into a cow massacre nightmare. The pace at the table is now decreasing in an alarming rate and some of the cow killers are already putting down their cutleries on the plate, groaning in pain looking rather pale. "Never give up, never surrender!", I pushes on and finished my burger with only one quarter of the top bun left on my plate. It was satisfying yet so painful. Some of the other casualties are not so lucky, with more than half of the burgers are still left on their plates. (Tsk... tsk... tsk...) Richard also couldn't finish his "Unthinkable" with only a few mouthfuls left.
While we are still slouching on the seats in agony, the waitress has already started cleaning our plates, trying to hurry us up to finish our meals so that they can close the restaurant for the night. But no one seems to want to take the initiatives by standing up and walk out the door. It is a life and death decision but we eventually exited the restaurant, still standing outside for a good ten minutes chatting away, trying to wipe off the cold sweat and gather our souls back before we bid each other farewell and make our way home.
The Counter burger has definitely bring the gluttony sin out of everyone, and I can tell you, it wasn't a good look. So are you game enough to face your demon?
The Counter 118 Willoughby Rd Crows Nest NSW 2065 P: (02) 9436 2700