Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dining Out Paleo: The Counter


The Counter
695 6th Ave
San Diego, CA 92040

Our family supports the Autism Society of America San Diego Chapter because, well, we live with autism.  Our son is 11 years old and was diagnosed with high functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome at age 3.  The ASA in San Diego has a WONDERFUL Parent Education Series on Autism Through the LifeSpan.  Its a free series and I encourage attendance to ANYONE who wants to learn more about helping those in the spectrum grow and thrive.

The Counter is a new family-style, build-your-own-burger restaurant in the Downtown area of San Diego.  In an area that is drowning in hipster themed whisky bars and charcuteries, it's a much needed addition.  The restaurant owners partnered with the ASA to donate 100% of their proceeds on their "Soft Opening" to the ASA's programs.  Getting to go to a new restaurant before anyone else?  Good.  Supporting ASA's programs?  Better.  FINDING OUT THAT THEY HAVE PALEO OPTIONS????  AMAZING.

The Menu and it's dietary information can be found on their website.  Our very chipper and attentive waitress Amber, informed us that their entire staff had been trained on different dietary needs, including Paleo, "because there are so many people into CrossFit".  At that moment, I was ready to commit to coming to The Counter at least once a week.  And I hadn't tried the food yet.  The ordering process is fun, you go down a checklist, marking what items you want on your burger.  With options like "Burger in a Bowl"($1.00 extra), organic greens and grass-fed beef it's a pretty safe place to eat paleo.

Our waitress was especially attentive to our son, after tactfully                 finding out that he was in the spectrum.  He has an affinity for Shirley Temples, and while the restaurant doesn't have cherry flavoring to put in Sprite, she suggested using Grenadine (from the bar) and ended up making his favorite Shirley Temple of all time.

From the appetizer menu we ordered a 50/50 plate of french fries and                    sweet potato fries (sweet potatoes ARE paleo, however these fries do contain soy which is a no-no). The fries were delicately cut and extremely good.  They came with a horseradish aioli.  We also ordered the Grilled Veggies.  They were very good, thinly cut and grilled only to the point to bring out a sweetness.  This appetizer is Paleo Friendly IF you ignore the corn.

To illustrate the fact that I am a solo-Grok in this family, my son made a "burger" from his pretzel bun and french fries.  I commend those families living with autism who have gone gluten-free.  That is something I just couldn't imagine doing, as processed carbs are 90% of what my son eats.

I ordered a "Burger-in-a-Bowl" with a 1 lb grass fed patty, cooked medium rare.  Their burger patty sizes are post-cook weight.  So when you order 1lb of meat, you get a FULL 16oz.  I added tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, pickles and a fried egg to my burger.  I also chose the garlic aioli, although the "burger-in-a-bowl" had so much flavor that I ended up forgetting about it.  It was really well put together, the meat was cooked perfectly.  When I pushed through the yolk and runny gold ran out into my salad, I was definitely a happy paleo girl.

I couldn't order milkshakes like the hubby and daughter, but I COULD order a "Skinny Margarita".  A drink that is already offered on their menu, it's Patron Silver, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.  Imagine my delight that my Paleo drink of choice was something the bartender already knew how to make.  The milkshakes were reported to be good.

The Counter definitely has my vote as one of the most Paleo-friendly eateries.  The price point of the menu items are definitely competitive for the Downtown area.  For 2 appetizers, 4 meals, 2 milkshakes and 1 alcoholic beverage, our tab was $85.  That's a huge meal for us, but 100% of the proceeds were going to the ASA, so we let our hair down.  Being able to eat without worrying about ruining my carefully planned diet, knowing that they support families with autism, and the level of customer service and quality of the food definitely adds up to a return visit.  Besides, hubby can't wait to try the Oversized Chocolate Chip Cookie, which is reported to be larger than our daughter's face.

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