I pay close attention to customer service at a restaurant. It can make or break my experience, whether the food was good or not. The last time I had fish & chips at a restaurant, the server was amazing. Warm, friendly, helpful, engaging—she was an A+ of servers. The fish and chips, however, were a D+ at best. They were heavy and greasy, and I went home with a stomach ache as a result. So I set out to create a Lightened Up Beer Battered Fish and Chips, one that’s a bit lighter on the stomach, and this is the delicious result!
So why do I pay such close attention to customer service? I used to answer what I call the “hate mail” at my last job. It was usually people complaining about their restaurant experience. The server disappeared. The entrées came 10 minute apart. I said, “no nuts” and it came with nuts. These were all common complaints, sometimes even within the same email (when it rains, it pours).
These emails drove me crazy because I KNEW that we could do better. Servers make mistakes or have an off night, just like the rest of us. But as a whole, we got more complaints than we should have. With proper training, an engaged staff, and a culture of good customer service, restaurants can create phenomenal experiences for their customers. So many restaurants go into business because they have great food, but it’s the restaurants with great customer service and an attitude of hospitality that end up sticking around.
And so each day I would answer the hate mail, give apologies, and dole out gift cards. Every once in awhile, I would receive an email with absolutely glowing feedback about a particular server. He or she made sure that the person’s allergies were handled appropriately, or brought their child (on the verge of a meltdown) his or her meal early. These emails were THE BEST! Seriously, if you have a good experience at a restaurant, email them to let them know, or leave a positive review on Facebook or Yelp. You will make someone’s day, and maybe even get an invitation back to enjoy a few perks.
Those servers who received positive feedback had an attitude of hospitality. They wanted to make sure that the guest felt welcome and accommodated. They went above and beyond to make sure that the guest had a good experience. They anticipated guests’ needs, and swiftly addressed them.
The same is true about being a good host in your home. Being hospitable is not about how much money that you spent on dinner. It’s not about how many courses make up the meal. It’s not about creating an Instagram-worthy dinner. It’s about loving your guests through your actions. Greet them warmly, instead of being preoccupied in the kitchen. Take their coats. Hand them a drink as they settle in. Flip on the bathroom lights so they don’t have to fumble around. Wish them safe travels home.
And if you have some time, do a little research! Did they recently return from a trip to Greece? Serve baklava from a local bakery for dessert. Do they post about beer on social media? Have a 6-pack chilled in the fridge. Do they follow a special diet? Grab some gluten-free dinner rolls from the freezer section of your grocery store. Are they bringing their children? If you don’t have kids, grab a few coloring books and markers from the dollar section of Target. Side note: since when do markers come with GLITTER? They did not make those 25 years ago and I am jealous. By all means, get the glitter markers!
And finally? Serve something that they’ll love. Meat fans will love this Beef Wellington Pot Pie. And seafood lovers will adore these Lightened Up Beer Battered Fish and Chips. The fish is pan fried, not deep fried. The chips (a.k.a. French fries) are roasted until golden and crispy in the oven.
The recipe serves 4, but can be easily scaled up or down. I served the Lightened Up Beer Battered Fish and Chips with lemon slices and ketchup. In the U.K., you’ll find malt vinegar as an accompaniment, which gets sprinkled over the cod and chips in lieu of lemon. It’s an…acquired taste. One that I haven’t acquired yet. 🙂
I used Stella Artois for the beer batter, though you could use a variety of different beers. Stay away from anything flavored through—fruity beers and coffee-infused stouts would not work here. You should absolutely serve these Lightened Up Beer Battered Fish and Chips with the leftover beer!
Lightened Up Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Yield 4 servings
For the fish:
- 1½ lbs fresh cod
- 1 cup lager beer (I used Stella Artois)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the chips:
- 2 lbs russet potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
To serve: lemon slices, ketchup, malt vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
- Slice potatoes vertically into ¼ inch slices, then cut each slice into ¼ inch slices. You’ll end up with a french fry shape. Divide the potatoes between the 2 large baking sheets. Drizzle each pile of potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle each pile with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss with your hands to coat. Spread the potato slices evenly across the baking sheets, making sure the potato slices do not overlap. Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until crisp, flipping halfway through.
- Meanwhile, cut the cod in 3-inch pieces. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt on both sides.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium high heat. Whisk the beer and flour together in a medium sized bowl. Dip the fish into the beer batter. Remove and shake off the extra batter. Place in the hot pan. Repeat with the remaining cod until the pan is full, but not crowded.
- Cook for 2–3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 2–3 minutes on the other side, or until crisp and the fish is cooked through. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.
- Pour the remaining two tablespoons of oil into the skillet and repeat the process with the remaining fish.
- Serve immediately with lemon slices or malt vinegar, and ketchup.
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