I’m not one for pickles. I slide them off my hamburger and pass them to friends when they arrive, speared, on my plate at a deli. I think they’re a bit brackish and almost too playful for their own good, and cartoonish when sliced, staring up at me from a bun. What is this, the Krabby Patty? Um, no.
I am, however, a fan of weird foods. Strange combinations that shouldn’t work and might work but definitely don’t—but wait a minute, was that actually kind of, secretly, maybe delicious?
So when my editor asked me to go try the pickle-flavored ice cream at Lucky Pickle Dumping Co., a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I jumped at the chance. I threw my aversion to pickles out the window and hopped on a speeding express train (the very slow 1, actually, which runs devastatingly local, but where’s the drama in that?) toward the only place in New York City with a soft serve machine that spews a creamy, briny pickle dessert.
Since the joint opened in May, people have been going berserk over the salty-disguised-as-sweet-disguised-as-salty treat. But because I’m Texan, there are two things I don’t do until the weather inches generously above 90° F: Jump in the pool with other human beings, and eat ice cream. So when temperatures finally climbed into the 90s this week, I myself climbed up to the Upper West Side and found myself face to face with a soft serve machine labeled pickle.
“I’d like to taste your pickle soft serve!” I shouted at the staff behind the counter. They were cooperative albeit a bit annoyed at my enthusiasm. They gave me a taste that I took a picture of and practically scarfed in one bite (the sample was small).
My eyes lit up! The staff smiled! It liked it! I told them! They nodded because they knew. “Yeah, it’s like really good, most people like it,” an employee told me.
It tasted, at first, like tzatziki sauce, the Greek yogurt dip that’s got its fair share of cucumbers—which makes sense—but without the garlic. There were hints of dill which gave it nuance and heft. It was sweet, yes, but not overwhelmingly so and the tiniest bit tangy, from the pickle brine. It was creamy—it is soft serve after all.
For someone who usually eschews pickles, I found that I wanted to try more. This dessert wasn't acerbic and green and bumpy like its namesake but rather pale green and smooth and quite pleasant. Pickle soft serve is very, very refreshing.
I asked the manager what was in it, and he told me. It's on the tip of my tongue... But, alas, a coworker reminded him that their boss specifically told them not to reveal the recipe to anyone. So, unfortunately, I won’t be sharing it here. I liked them enough (as people, you know?) and I would hate for any of the employees at Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. to be reprimanded for my actions.
My report card: Would I have it again? Absolutely. Was it refreshing? Cool as a cucumber. Did it taste like chomping on a salty, vinegary pickle? Not at all. If anything, I would say it was pickle-inspired. Which really made all the difference.
Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co., 513 Amsterdam Ave.
Words by Valerio Farris at Food52