For me, eating fish and chips is like eating a great burger — if I’m going to go for it, I want it to be the best deep fried fish and chips I’ve ever eaten in my life, otherwise, to paraphrase Mr. T: I pity the fool who disappoints.
Recently, my husband and I went on a date to try the fish and chips at a local restaurant for this month’s column. With five kids, date night takes on biblical proportions, so after securing a babysitter, our expectations were running pretty high.
So I felt conflicted when I ordered fish and chips and they were horrible. I mean, the fish was literally rotten.
Everything was going great, the service was excellent, clean, inviting environment, wide beer selection, wonderful appetizers. They had gotten everything right but that one thing. And serving rotten food is a big deal.
I stewed about it for days afterward.
On the one hand, I never want to write bad stuff about a restaurant. Unless it’s a travesty of justice, why be a jerk? I can always walk away; no harm, no foul. We live in America where there is always another choice.
And, honestly, operating a restaurant is really, really hard. We cannot complain that there aren’t enough restaurants in Renton if we are not willing to support the folks who have committed everything to making it happen.
I learned this first hand waiting tables.
When I was 18, I realized that the only way I could afford to go to college was if I could wait tables at night and go to school during the day.
With zero experience I talked myself into a job waitressing at a steak and seafood house. I had heart! I was passionate! I was creative! I was a hard worker!
It became very clear to everyone, including myself, that without question, I was the worst waitress in the world.
Those first few months were brutal. Going home crying every night because I was the “worst waitress in the world” taught me a huge lesson early on in life.
I learned the hard way that to be successful at anything it takes lots of luck, creativity, but mostly consistency, tons of hard work and a passion to continue on regardless of how many times you mess up.
Eventually, I went from being the worst server to being the best server. I stayed with that company all through college.
Which is why, today, I may not be writing up the restaurant. But you can be sure I’ll go back! I just won’t order my beloved fish and chips again.
I really have no business ordering fish and chips at a restaurant anyway.
First, I have an amazing fish and chip recipe I cook in my own kitchen.
Second, it’s no secret that we humans attach a lot of emotions to our food.
Whether its because you’re broke and this is your only night to eat out for the next two weeks, or you’ve been on a diet for a year and this is the first “cheat” night, or, as in my case, biting into fish and chips reminds me of being Irish!
Or perhaps of a St. Patrick’s Day spent on a cherry bar stool at an Irish pub hoisting a pint of Harp’s while grubbing on the finest fish and chips in your life while singing green alligators and long neck geese when I was in college.
So yes, it’s reasonable to say that I have an unreasonable amount of expectations when I order fish and chips!
The truth is, Rentonites and Seattleites in general are picky. Our expectations are too high.
Maybe it’s because were from the PNW, sister city to Portland, who gets to be weird while Seattle is expected to pick up the slack.
Seattleites are often described as “frosty, but fair.” Self starters. Creative, high achievers, doers of the right thing…up to a point: but mess up our fish and chips and we won’t be back. And we’ll retaliate by telling all our friends or go on YELP.
It is my personal opinion that the business model of YELP is evil: giving a platform for anonymous people with zero accountability to ruin a reputation. Not cool.
What I do know is, I think we owe our support to new, local restaurants and give them a chance to grow. But we can’t forget to show much love to the restaurants that have been here forever and are still serving amazing food.
But until Renton has a new Irish pub, I’ll save eating my beloved fish and chips at home with my family! Try the recipe yourself, and Happy St. Paddy’s Day!