Dropping “Vegan” for the Pickle Shack

Dropping “Vegan”  for the Pickle Shack


Pickle Shack in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The Pickle Shack, a collaboration of local picklers Brooklyn Brine and craft brewer Dogfish Head, has thee best almost all-vegan menu I have seen in a long time…

That being said, it took me a while to stumble upon the great options. A house-cultured cashew cheese sprinkles the menu, inventive veggie-based sandwiches, a PB&J with house-made preserves, non-dairy beer floats… I mean really! And of course the fried pickles. And the vegan aioli accompaniment. But where have I been? It is not coincidence that I’ve been out of the loop–there are zero “vegan”s on their menu.

It’s that new quandary. Does a new eatery boast vegan or let it be on the downlow? “Vegan” turns others off… I forget this until I innocently encounter vicious comment strands of vegan haters. I experience it often enough, too. I see it in the split second hesitation when I offer another one of my baked goods; I see their temptation level drop just slightly when they find out the treats are vegan. They proceed in eating, half with curiosity and half to save face. Then I’ve changed them for good–usually. But I am not running a business, paying retail rent on 4th avenue in Gowanus. If fear of “vegan” stops customers from coming in, how can you change them for good? That’s why, Pickle Shack, I am going to tell the world that you’re mostly vegan… and very, very delicious.

DSC_0091Leave it to two “artisanal” [I like what the word means but hate the Portlandia-esque parodic images in evokes in association–bearded men with elegantly clashed forearm tattoos] start-ups to come up with food that honors their business model–from quality, from the heart, no plastic pieces. Read: no processed food products {Yeah, you Daiya.} and “housemade” everything–because that stuff matters. It makes better food.

DSC_0092So onward to the better food: I had long given up on vegan veggie burgers. After scouring New York City for a good veggie burger, my standards had to be adjusted lower. “I’m too tough a critic,” I told myself and moved on from my mission. But Pickle Shacks’s veggie burger, housemade out of grilled veggies and mushroom and topped with bread & butter pickles, aioli and ketchup and served on a potato roll, is out of this world. Of course, I added their vegan cheese to my burger and it arrived with a perfect grilled onion indenting the creamy deliciousness. It was everything I want out of a veggie burger: hearty, flavorful, great texture, a quality bun. Nothing frozen. A damn good burger.

DSC_0087Of course I needed to try their fried pickles, also all-vegan: I tried the Crispy Fried Hop Pickles, the pairing of beer and pickles being the very foundation of the place. Crunchy and brine-y… with a fresh pop of lemon from the aioli. Yes, all taste buds were satisfied.

What stinks about being excited to eat at a new veg spot is choosing what to eat off a menu with plenty that sounds outstanding. I’ll just have to return, Pickle Shack. Thanks for the thoughtful, vegan gastropub grub.