By Benjamin Gottesman, Arts and Culture Editor
Grand Street is anything but grand. It used to deserve the pomp of its name, but now it is simply another run-down, New York City road, grayed by time and indifference. There is no tumbleweed this side of the Mason-Dixon, but there may as well be, as the specters are plentiful in American Jewry’s favorite ghost town.
One need only to walk the faded pavement with any Orthodox Gen-Xer to watch the memories crawl out the basements of boarded delis and crevices of decrepit tenements. Walk the streets with a Boomer and the ghosts roar to life, invigorated by the quiet sparkle of vigor that the reteller of any good story must possess. Yet, on most days, the Lower East Side lies forgotten, a mausoleum of Jewish memory.
However, nestled away on Grand Street, Diller N.Y.C. single handedly strives to keep the neighborhood afloat. An offshoot of the traditionally Kosher-style Pickle Guys, the creators of Diller decided that the only way to keep the tradition of yore alive was to breathe into it a modern life. They took the pickle, a culinary staple of New York Jewry for decades, and modernized it for the vegan-conscious, gastro-pub-loving, new generation of New York Jews. Deli is out and Beyond Beef is in. Gone are the hot dogs and kraut, replaced by lentil egg rolls and fried rice balls. This is a new Kosher experience, raised and ready for the cuisine of the Future.
And then, when you least expect it, the nostalgia hits. At the forefront of the menu are fried pickles, complete with a complimentary dill-based sauce. Pickles are even in the lemonade, in a truly bizarre, once-in-a-life time, millennial-esque drinking experience. The future is here but the past remains as well. The legacy of the Lower East Side lives on.
The food is great and reasonably priced. The pickle bit adds a fun level of novelty and shtick.
However, it is the meeting point of memory and modernity, all wrapped up in a vegan patty and fried pickle that makes Diller N.Y.C worth coming back to over and over again.