First Bites

The Counter Opens in Aventura: Custom Burgers and Beermonade

It appears that Aventura is fast becoming the burger capital of Miami-Dade. With restaurants such as BurgerFi, Five Guys, and Bulldog Barbecue and Burger (in neighboring North Miami), there's no dearth of burgers in this northeasternmost part of the county, but it seems there's always room for one more.

Enter the Counter. Featuring custom burgers made with naturally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus beef, the restaurant is part of a California-based chain that's relatively new to South Florida. It has nearly three dozen locations in California, Dublin, and New York City, and recently set up shop in Florida in Naples and at Miami International Airport. The Aventura location just opened last week, so we stopped in to grab a burger and check it out.

See also: Bulldog Barbecue and Burger: Now Serving Brunch

The Counter is small and reminiscent of a vintage coffee shop, complete with Formica tabletops. The full-service restaurant has a simple premise: Choose your burger (or alternative protein such as ground turkey, chicken breast, vegan burger, bison, or Ahi tuna); a cheese; a sauce; toppings (there are dozens to choose from); bun; and side (additional $3). The menu includes gluten-free options, burger bowls (where a patty is incorporated into a salad), and vegan bread in addition to the nonmeat patty. Appetizers and sides include fried dill pickle chips ($6), deviled eggs ($3), salads ($5), and chili ($8).

Like the burgers, shakes ($6.50) are custom-made and include a choice of blend-ins such as cherry pie filling, banana, and Nutella ($1 additional). The Counter also offers a good range of beer and wine, including beer cocktails ($8), beer floats ($8), and beermonade ($8) -- a blend of Stella Artois and lemonade.

Burgers aren't cheap. A third-pound patty costs $11, a half-pounder is $13, and a full pound of meat runs $17. With a side of fries and a drink, you're looking at a minimum $20 before tax and tip. But the burgers are thick and satisfying, and the fries are crisp and fresh.

Behold the beermonade ($8). The Counter's take on a shandy combines Stella Artois and lemonade to make one refreshing drink that pairs perfectly with a burger. We can't wait for an extremely hot Miami afternoon to pound one back.

A third-pound burger (ordered medium-rare) had a great char on the outside and was perfectly pink on the inside. We customized the sandwich with horseradish cheddar, pickled carrots and daikon, kale, tomatoes, and house-made mustard ($11).

The fries ($3 with a burger) were crisp and golden.

Fried dill pickles ($6), ordered as an appetizer, arrived after the burger. Our waitress warned us that a fresh batch was being made and would arrive late to the table, giving us the option to "pass or play." The pickles, coated in an herb batter, arrived hot and were tart, crispy, savory. However, we weren't fond of the apricot dipping sauce, which resembled a Chinese take-out condiment. Eat them as-is or ask for some ranch dressing as a substitute. By the way, because of the late arrival, we weren't charged for the pickles. Bonus.

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