Special thanks to TMR contributing writer Mike for covering this sneak peak event at The Counter in The Woodlands.

In an area known for great burgers, how does a place set themselves apart from the crowd? If that place is The Counter, they go big. Bigger than anyone else, to be honest. Boasting over 312,000 combinations, the possibilities seem endless and you’re rewarded for your creativity.

Walking into the restaurant, I was immediately impressed with the surroundings. It’s decorated with an upscale diner feel, simple metal tables and chairs complemented by flat screen TV’s in the bar area and prints adorning the walls featuring various concert settings and instruments. I was also struck with how loud the place is, but that’s to be expected when you’re literally overflowing with customers (as evidenced by the line out the door and the wait outside).

Did I mention they have beer and wine? I counted 12 different beers on tap and 7 available in bottles, as well as about 15 different wines to choose from. Pretty impressive when you consider the limited options at most diners or burger joints.

One of the other cool things about The Counter is their market selection option. In each market, they offer a locally grown or produced selection for each of the categories (meat, cheese, bun, toppings, sauce). If you’re not sure what you want, you can choose a market selection in all categories. Or you can also choose from one of their signature burgers (for the less adventurous).

The Counter is all about the burger, but they do have an impressive list of accompaniments as well. Sweet potato fries, fried onion strings, fried pickles and Parmesan fries are some of the highlights of the many choices available.

I took my menu from my server and started to formulate a game plan. I went for simple, straight ahead burger goodness. When you’re ready to order, the process is really straightforward. Take a pencil from the holder on the table, select your meat (beef, turkey, chicken, veggie, market selection), cheese, toppings, premium toppings ($1.00 extra), sauce and bun. Choose a side if you want, and hand the card to your waiter.

After some careful deliberation, I went for the 2/3 lb. beef burger with Tilamook cheddar, grilled onions, applewood smoked bacon, a fried egg and roasted garlic aioli on a regular bun. My dining companion took a slightly more adventurous approach with a 2/3 lb. beef burger with jalapeno jack, ham, avocado, black bean and corn salsa, roasted green chiles and spicy sour cream on a regular bun.

For sides, we went with a 50-50 combo of fried onion strings and sweet potato fries, and a side of the parmesan fries. The combo is served with BBQ sauce, ranch and a horseradish mayonnaise.

The sides arrived first and were met with looks of equal parts pleasure and bad intentions. I dove into the sweet potato fries, which were suggested to be eaten with the horseradish mayo. They were perfectly cooked, slightly crunchy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. The horseradish mayo was the perfect complement and was one of the better sauces I’ve ever had.

I tried the fried onion strings next. I ate them with the ranch, which was good but nothing new or spectacular. However, the onion strings themselves were brilliant. They were thin and not overcooked, with a mildly sweet flavor that matched well with the creamy ranch dressing. I thought the BBQ sauce was a tad too sweet to eat with either of the sides.

The Parmesan fries were next, and I’ll say the wait was definitely worth it. Served in a mixture of parsley, rosemary and garlic aioli, they were a sight to behold. They were cut perfectly, thin so as not to get soggy from the aioli and cheese they were coated in. One of the best fries this guy has ever tried.

After carb overload, we were greeted with our behemoth burgers. When mine arrived, I felt a definite feeling of satisfaction knowing that I had chosen wisely. The meat was cooked precisely as I asked, right between medium and medium well. The egg was slightly runny and I probably looked like a kid on Christmas morning about to unwrap his soon to be favorite present.

The first bite was delicious and I soon realized there was no way I was going to come close to finishing this beast. The weight of the burger was 2/3 lb. – after cooking! I took a few more bites and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to need a to-go box. I gamely ate a few more parmesan fries before tapping out. Or so I thought.

One of the owners came by and told us that we had to try a milkshake, and at the very least take one with us for the road. So I ordered the strawberry shake and tried to figure out how I was going to make it from my truck into my house without falling over and convulsing from the meat sweats.

I’m glad I got the shake. It was delicious, but far too rich for my blood. A few sips was more than enough.

The Counter is definitely a welcome addition to the North side of town, in an area that is slowly becoming a go to place for great restaurants and shopping. I know I’ll be going back. Just maybe not enough to try all 312,000 combinations.

9595 Six Pines Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77830

*Note: This dinner was complimentary of The Counter.