The literal interpretation of ‘table d’hoˆte’ is ‘table or offering of the host.’ It stems from a bygone period when nobility and people of means entertained their guests in their homes (See also prix fixe).
A contemporary table d’hoˆte or ‘set’ menu offers a fixed price for a limited number of courses and dishes. It can also be offered for a set dining period, e.g., lunch. Table d’hoˆte menus may change daily, weekly, or even monthly, and they may be used in rotation, as they are for cycle menus in on site foodservice. Table d’hoˆte menus offer a complete meal of three or more courses with or without a choice of dishes in each course. Guests usually pay full price for all courses whether or not they consume all of them. Some foodservice operators who offer special gourmet table d’hoˆte menus for events such as Christmas dinner or wedding banquets require a deposit when making reservations.
Foodservice operators prefer table d’hoˆte menus because they are versatile and adaptable to different occasions; production costs are easier to monitor; food materials usage and sales estimates are more accurate; more time can be spent on high quality production and service; and higher quality food materials can be purchased because of reduced food stock needs. It should be noted, however, that many foodservice operations offer a table d’hoˆte menu in conjunction with an a` la carte menu, thus offering diners a ‘fast track’ selection, a ‘value for money’ choice, menu items that are not featured on the a` la carte menu, seasonal or regional food specialties, and promotional items.
Revel, J. (1982). Culture and Cuisine. Garden City, (NY): Doubleday & Company.