Monday, January 24, 2011

Say What? Atlantans vote an OTP chain as the best Atlanta newcomer?!

It is a sad, sad day for Atlanta foodies when a chain, an OTP chain outpost no less, that ranks as Atlanta's "Top Newcomer." But that's exactly what just happened in the newest addition of Zagat's. According to their survey of Atlanta eaters, the top newcomer is Roswell's branch of The Counter. In a city chock full of good restaurants, it's horrifying to find that the one getting attention is neither locally based nor even inside the city limits, and just like so many better restaurants - Flip, Farm Burger, Yeah Burger et all, this restaurant dishes up burgers.  Is this what we've come to?

First of all, The Counter opened in July 2008, as evidenced by this August '08 Creative Loafing Review. To put this into context, in the 2.5 years since The Counter's opening, here are just a few of the far superior restaurants that have opened in our fair city:
  • Abattoir
  • Bocado
  • Dogwood
  • Empire State South
  • Flip Burger
  • Holeman & Finch
  • La Pietra Cucina
  • Leon's Full Service
  • Miller Union
  • Miso Izakaya
  • Pacci
  • Serpas
  • Sound Table
Now I realize that many people, especially those living OTP might not have eaten at any of these restaurants. And if that's the case, please hop in your car, brave the highway, and come experience the best of what Atlanta has to offer. I love a good burger as much as the next gal, and I even visited The Counter once when I was visiting my parents, but that does not make it a restaurant worthy of national attention. I can't help but think it makes us look like a bunch of chain restaurant rubes who can't tell a great restaurant from a good enough one. What kills me is the idea that people took the time to fill out Zagat's survey and when posed with the question, "what is Atlanta's best new comer?" thought to themselves, "Oh I sure did love that burger I had after shopping at North Point the other day. The Counter it is."

Fortunately I've long known that Zagat's is a poor reflection of actual quality. I know it's ironic that a food blogger would question the wisdom of the masses, but I prefer to take my restaurant advice from trusted resources, be it a blog or a professional reviewer. A popularity contest always seems to sink to the lower end of the spectrum in chain mad towns.

I don't have a problem with chains existing nor with the idea of eating in the suburbs. But it's simply a crime for so many great restaurants both high-end and reasonably priced, haute and down home to get ignored in favor of a carpetbagger chain.

So just like John Kessler and Chef Nick Oltarsh recently urged people, support great local restaurants. I know we're all pinching pennies these days, but try to vote with your dollars whenever possible. And if you're dying for a burger, at least give one of the locally owned restaurants a shot! At a minimum, go onto and log your vote for something more exciting than The Counter!

Here's the offending blurb:

Top newcomer: The Counter
Fans say the best burger in Roswell can be found at this link in a California-based chain where a lot of toppings (purportedly enough to make 312,120-plus different combinations, including vegetarian options) make their build-your-own concept a gourmet occasion, one made even more interesting by amazing onion rings and sweet potato fries and enjoyable milkshakes. It's a good place for families and fun for all ages.



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