Let’s talk about menus

1. What should a menu be like? Circle the answer you think is best.

big / small

colourful / black & white

one language only / translated into other languages

printed / handwritten

expensive / cheap

with pictures / without pictures

Key words:

  • menu = list of foods and drinks offered in a bar, restaurant, orsimilar catering establishment
  • course = the successive division of a meal: soups, fish, main course, etc.
  • diner = person who eats a meal


should be compiled by a number of people working together in strict collaboration: the Head Chef, the Maître d’Hôtel and the Manager.


The menu influences customers and when creating menus, chefs and restaurateurs appeal to certain market segments. They create the a tmosphere of the restaurant through the décor, furniture and uniforms, but also through the menu. Whatever the restaurant type may be, ethnic or gourmet or fast food, the physical ambience together with the items on the menu contribute to create a complete image to meet the clients’ needs.


There are two major types of menus:

  • table d’hôte
  • à la carte

In addition, there are two minor types:

  • coffee shop menu
  • carte du jour

Table d’hôte

It is defined by the following points:

  • fixed number of courses
  • possible choice of courses
  • fixed price
  • all dishes ready at a set time

table d’hôte menu is presented alone or in conjunction with an à la carte or carte du jourmenu.

À la carte

In English, à la carte translates literally as ‘on the card’ and a typical à la carte menu features:

  • full list of prepared dishes
  • separately priced dishes
  • dishes that can require longer preparation times
  • dishes that are prepared toorder

An a la carte menu is generally presented alone in first-class establishments, or with atable d’hote or carte du jour menu in smaller establishments. Tire dishes may change according to the season.