A la carte menu, meaning, characteristics, advantage and disadvantage

Restaurants may offer both A la carte menu and table d, hote menu to satisfy the guest, and customers may decide what menu to choose, but now we will look at only a la carte menu.

A la carte is a French word meaning “according to the menu”, and it is used in restaurant terminology. English speakers adopted this phrase to refer to a certain type of menu.

The price of an a la carte menu is higher compared to table d’ hote or a pre-fixed menu. A well-compiled a la carte menu offers a lot of variety to all age groups, and each dish must have a description so as to make the customer understand the dish and its price

a la carte menu
A Thai a la carte dish

What does A la carte mean on the menu?

In a restaurant, a la carte is the practice of ordering individual dishes from a menu, this type of menu offers a wide choice of dishes under each category and each dish is priced separately. A la carte dishes may include side dishes along with the main dish. The bill amount will be according to the customer’s orders.

It is the opposite of the word table d’hote where guests can take either all or some dishes from the menu, for which they have to pay a set amount.

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Characteristics of a la carte menu

  • Extensive choice of dishes within each course/category
  • Each dish is priced separately.
  • Dishes are cooked as per order (after receiving the order)
  • Each dish has a waiting time.
  • Customers are billed according to the order placed.
  • A short description is mentioned under each dish for customers to know what they are ordering.
  • Dishes are usually semi-prepared beforehand and finished off after receiving the order.
  • A la carte dishes take some time for cooking, portioning, and garnishing.

Advantages and disadvantages of a la carte menu


  • Customers have an extensive choice of dishes to choose from.
  • Customers pay for the dishes they order for.
  • It effectively addresses the needs of requirements of guests of varying age groups and plates.
  • Guests get freshly cooked dishes.


  • Needs more kitchen area and kitchen equipment.
  • Requires more kitchen staff.
  • Calls for a variety of service equipment.
  • Needs high volume of mise en place work to be carried out.
  • More food wastage in this style of operation.

Examples of a la carte menu dishes

1. Hord d’ oeuvre (Appetizer)
A) Grapefruit cocktail
B) Corn on the cab
C) Smoked salmon
2. Potage (Soup)
A) Chicken broth
B) Minestrone
C) Cockie leekie
3. Poisson (Fish)
A) Hereng grille
B) Saumon poche
C) Filet de melan frit
4. Roti (Roasted items)
A) Poulet roti
B) Canard roti
C) Faison roti
5. Salade (salad)
A) Salade Russe
B) Salade de concombres
C) Salade Mimosa
6. Entremets ( Sweet)
A) Queen of pudding
B) Chocolate souffle
C) Banana split.

Sample of a la carte menu with pictures

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