The Toasted Pickle is big on fun as well as out-of-the-ordinary sandwiches
Paul and Mary Bondarenko of Jackson, Michigan, were camping at Grand Haven State Park recently. A friend suggested they have lunch at The Toasted Pickle.
They sat down at the end of my table, so I promptly suggested the pickle poppers. Dill pickles wrapped in a thin, flaky dough and deep fried; proof that there is a toasted pickle at The Toasted Pickle.
It’s just one of many selections that start with the ordinary and finish with a flourish. Grilled cheese sandwich? The Green Goddess – featured on The Food Network/Cooking Channel – has the requisite cheddar, along with goat cheese, avocado, and pesto. It comes with a shot of tomato soup.
Burger? The Bacon Jam Burger actually comes with house-made bacon jam along with caramelized onions, cheddar and serrano crema.
Chicken sandwich? There are several, all with chicken as just the start. The High Nooner, for example, adds smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, tangy aioli.
The Nashville Hottie piles coleslaw, pickles and “hottie” sauce on top of the chicken. It’s messy. “You often wear that sandwich,” says “dill sergeant” Jim Avery. His wife, Karen Zickus Avery, founded the sandwich shop in 2016. A second shop has been added in Rockford.
Other sandwiches start with roast beef, pulled pork, turkey, salami…
There’s lemonade, freshly squeezed, with the option of adding boba (tapioca pearls) that get sipped through a fat straw. Condiments sit in old-fashioned lunch buckets (like the one my dad took to work in the iron ore mines to the north). And one entire wall touts pickles! It pays homage to Karen’s dad. “Papa Zeke used to make pickles,” Jim says. “He’d pickle everything.”
Papa Zeke was a good cook, sharing with Karen the love of not only good food – fun food at the center of a fun atmosphere.
So yes, dill pickles, as stand-alones, are on the menu.
But oh, those pickle poppers. “It took a lot of research, but we’ve had it (on the menu) since day one,” Jim says. “People didn’t know what they were, and it took a while for people to catch on. There’s a unique flavor that comes with the sauce and the wrap. It’s for pickle-lovers.”
There’s even a “very prestigious” trophy for the best pickle-popper employee. “We basically have someone rolling pickle poppers all the time,” Jim says. “It’s not as easy as it looks; it has to be done just right so the sauce can’t leak out. When you put it in the fryer, something happens.” Like magic.
The whole setting makes me laugh. Even the website is mirth-making with a secret society called The Order of the Toasted Pickle, and pickle-related puns (think dillight), and, OMG, a pickle shooting game. Go ahead; try your luck.
The Toasted Pickle seats maybe 50 inside, but there’s carry-out, too. Regulars as well as visitors can be seen outside the entrance on Washington Street, ordering and then waiting. There’s online ordering, too. And, instead of picking up an order, customers can get delivery service to Grand Haven’s downtown social district.
The Toasted Pickle 112 Washington Ave. Grand Haven, MI (616) 414-7990 Sun-Thurs 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.