À la carte

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The literal interpretation of à la carte is 'from or off the card to order.' The course structure for all modern menus is governed technically by the à la carte menu. This classical format is based on the original French à la carte menu form, which in former times comprised 16 courses with or without a choice in each course for guests to choose from. Each menu item was individually priced. The classical French à la carte chronolog ical course structure is as follows: appetizers; soups; farinaceous dishes; eggs; fish and shellfish; entrées; grills; roasts; vegetables; salads; cold buffet items; sweets; ices; savories; cheeses; and chocolates, fruits, and bonbons.      

In its modern and reduced format the à la carte menu has all the dishes that are offered to the guest listed, described, and individually priced. The à la carte menu is designed to enable guests to choose the meal according to their needs and tastes. An à la carte menu should therefore provide:
* A full listing and description of menu items available to the guest on a 'to order' basis;
* A separate price for each menu item listed;
* Menu items that are prepared and cooked to order;
* A choice of menu items within each course;
* A limitation of menu items offered in accor dance with operational scope;
* A representation or interpretation of the type of operation or cuisine/dining theme offered.  
Note: The menu term 'entreé' is used in the USA to denote the main course or the main dish on the menu, whereas in Europe, England, Australia, and other countries it is used to denote appetizers or starters.

Greenstein, L. (1993). A la carte: A Tour of Dining History. Weimar, TX: Culinary & Hospitality Industry Publication Services.



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