Had lunch at Commonwealth in Kendall Sq. two weeks ago, which I quite enjoyed. My pork belly banh mi came with good steak fries, a small salad and a fantastic pickle spear. Now I'm always on the lookout for a great pickle, my personal definition of which is a very sour Jewish deli-style pickle – and while I think the POE ones sold at Russo's, e.g., are okay, they don't send me over the moon. And that reminds me of the ones I adored, Moonbrine Pickles, which are no longer available since Mr. Moonbrine moved to Portland OR. And while I think Grillo's pickles are excellent, they're not quite sour enough for me.
So, back to the Commonwealth pickle. So good. On the way out, I asked the host where they bought their pickles. Grillo's, he replied. I expressed my surprise. He went to double check with the chef, who confirmed they were Grillo's. And, without my asking, they gave me a pickle in a plastic container to take home for research and enjoyment.
Now I happened to have a container of Grillo's pickles in my fridge, so I compared the two, expecting to find that I was out of my mind and the two pickles were exactly the same. But no, they were not. The Commonwealth Grillo was much better: more flavor, more tang, more sour. Perhaps Grillo's was making a special pickle for Commonwealth?
Well, the other day I was in the Fresh Pond Whole Foods and Travis Grillo himself was there handing out pickle samples. I asked him about the Commonwealth pickle. He said they were the same dills he sells to the public. The only difference, he explained, was that he sells the pickles to restaurants in 4-gallon containers. Maybe, he suggested, the pickle I had at Commonwealth was an aging, soggy pickle that had soaked in more brine.
Maybe it was. Maybe I should buy a container of Grillo dills and leave it in the back of my fridge for a few months.
Anyhow, while we were talking I tried a sample of one of Travis's hot dills, which I liked more than I remembered – not too hot and tastier than the regualr Grillo dills. I bought a container, which I'm digging a lot. But my search for pickle perfection continues.