Summer Fun 2012
Inside a showdown

Who builds the best burger in Houston? One restaurant challenges its customers to create

Who builds the best burger in Houston? One restaurant challenges its customers to create

counter burger build off bougie frenchy
The winner! The Bougie Frenchy was delicious as well as pretty. Photo by Amy Chien
counter burger build off bougie frenchy
Sarah's Turkey Party had an unexpected amount of artichoke. Photo by Amy Chien
counter burger build off bougie frenchy
Ordering a 2/3 lb patty might have been slightly excessive. Photo by Amy Chien
counter burger build off bougie frenchy
counter burger build off bougie frenchy
counter burger build off bougie frenchy
News_The Counter_Burger Build-Off_hamburger

I know pretty much everyone loves burgers, but I consider myself a connoisseur. I'll use any excuse to shove a juicy burger into my mouth. So I felt no pressure in challenging my fellow CultureMapper and food phenom Sarah Rufca to a mano-a-mano burger challenge.

The inspiration? The Counter is hosting a Burger Build Off through the end of May as part of National Burger Month, with unique Counter burgers submitted by customers through its Facebook page for a chance to win gift certificates and, of course, glory.

At the Counter, you choose the type and size of protein, a kind of bun, cheese, sauce and up to five toppings. I chose the ⅔ beef burger with a double portion of soft-ripened brie, applewood-smoked bacon (playing on the classic cheese and prosciutto combination), dried cranberries and Dijon balsamic dressing. I was thrilled and amazed to find that my bun of choice, the English muffin, was the size of a regular burger bun. This was mind-blowing to me.

 Since my burger was pretentious (owning it!), French and sweet on the inside, I named it the Bougie Frenchie. 

I wholeheartedly love — nay, am obsessed with — English muffins, so a giant one was, well, incredible. It was toasted perfectly, crispy on the outside while the nooks and crannies remained soft and warm.

I loved the presentation of my burger, especially the neatly laid out slices of bacon making a thin blanket for the patty. My main regrets were choosing a ⅔ lb patty instead of the standard  ⅓ lb and not requesting it be cooked medium rare — the burger itself was overwhelmingly thick and a bit dry. Fortunately the double brie gave the sandwich a nice balance. Since my burger was pretentious (owning it!), French and sweet on the inside, I named it the Bougie Frenchie.

Sarah’s burger, the Turkey Party, had a ⅓ lb turkey patty on a regular hamburger bun with feta cheese, white cheddar (the Counter's market special cheese of the week), roasted corn and black bean salsa, artichoke hearts and chipotle aioli. I couldn't believe she skipped out on all the premium toppings and she mumbled something about showing restraint. In concept, this sandwich was full of exciting fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean flavors, but in actuality I thought it was a bit of a miss.

The spicy aioli paired well with the cheeses, but the bean and corn salsa did not go well with the huge artichoke hearts, which were way too chunky for a burger. The two different types of cheeses, however, were surprisingly tasty together. The creamy feta mellowed the sharpness of the cheddar, and the latter brought a bit of richness to the mild but fresh burger. I think Sarah regretted picking turkey instead of beef purely for the flavor profile.

Without an impartial judge, we agreed to be completely honest with each other in deciding whose burger was superior. The result? Drumroll please . . . Bougie Frenchie takes the prize!

I thought the sweet and savory combination on the crispy, fluffy oversized English muffin was impossible to resist, and even Sarah admitted that although she couldn't taste much beyond the beef and the brie, the cranberries were a great foil to those rich flavors.

But don’t take our word for it. To enter The Counter Burger Build Off, simply “like” the Counter's Facebook page, upload a picture of your creation, name it and add a description. The daily winner receives a $25 gift certificate and will be eligible to win $500 worth of the Counter burger goodness. They will also have bragging rights of having their creation on the Counter Market Select menu.

Burger on!