menu planning and french classical menu

In a restaurant, a menu is a presentation of food and beverage offerings. A menu may be a la carte – which guests use to choose from a list of options – or table d'hôte, in which case a pre-established sequence of courses is served.
The first restaurant menus arose roughly one millennium ago, in China - the only region of the world at the time where paper was abundant. At this time, many merchants often congregated together in city centers and had little time or energy to eat during the evening. Because of the large variation found in Chinese cuisine from different regions, the restaurants could no longer cater to the local palates, giving rise to the menu.
The word "menu," like much of the terminology of cuisine, is French in origin. It ultimately derives from Latin "minutus," something made small; in French it came to be applied to a detailed list or résumé of any kind. The original menus that offered consumers choices were prepared on a small chalkboard, in French a carte; so foods chosen from a bill of fare are described as "à la carte," "according to the board."
Menu planning
Purpose of the Menu
1. Inform guests of items available and price
 2. Inform employees of items to prepare and purchase
 3. MENU is primary control tool for the operation
 4. Menu is critical to communicating and selling items to the customer
Menu Planning Factors: Menu affects, and is affected by, the
  •   operation’s design
  •   layout,
  •   equipment requirements,
  •   labor needs.
The success of menu planning determines  the success of other basic operating activities.
Menu Planning Objectives
  • Menu must meet or exceed guest’s expectations.
  •   reflect tastes and preferences of guests
  •  Menu must attain marketing objectives.
  •  What guest wants, location, prices, times
  •  must bring guests back for more visits
Factor influencing menu planning
  •  Customer Satisfaction
  •  Management Decisions
  •  Factors Influencing Menu
  •  Planning – Customer Satisfaction
  •  Food preferences/habits
  •  Nutrition
  •  Aesthetic factors
Types of menu
Broadly menus are divided into two branches which may have various subsections more popularly the rrench word A la Carte and Table d' hote are in vogue. The first one means list of items offered individually priced. A la Carte menu has elaborate number of items giving a wide choice to the guests whereas the table d' hote or table of the host precisely translated into English is a list of small number with few courses without any substantial choices This is a package deal for a budget customer.
The other branches could be a buffet menu which is a menu with wide choice but priced per head. It comes exactly in midway between A la Carte and Table d' Hote. Flexy choice menu often have a few variations of Table d' Hote, two or three packages are offered like in banquets, using choice of any two or any three vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes with prices slightly differing from each other. It is also used in case of Indian restaurants offering thalis {Table d' Hdte) like Janta thali (one sabii, dal, roti), regular thali (two sabzi, dal, rott, salad), deluxe thali (two sabzi, dal fry, nan/parantha, salad, raita, papad and rice and kheer) may be costing Rs. 100 Rs. 150 Rs. 200 respectively.
In case of an A la Carte the menu is almost commonplace except that it varies from meal to meal like breakfast, lunch or dinner or two different classes of their own and also depending upon the restaurant whether it is a coffee shop, ethnic restaurant, discotheque or a night club. Sometimes in a restaurant both the menus run concurrently, particularly in commercial places where regulars go for budget menu and casuals go for A la Carte. Table d' Ho te on the other hand has many variations whereas it can be very rigid banquet menu with no choice and large number of courses (5-7), a meal for a group with a fair number of items in each course 2-3 not to make harsh for people with allergies and fads. A tea menu for a party with 10-15 items, somebody might like all, a few may like 2-3. limited buffet with per head rate. Table d'Hote can be used successfully in canteens, cafeterias commercial restaurants by cleverly changing the dishes in a cyclic manner so that repetition could not be detected.

Table d’ hote
A la carte
It is small menu
It is an elaborate menu
It has only 3 to 4 courses
It has multiple courses
It is economical as a complete meal
It is more expensive if same meal is chosen
It is easy to prepare
It is difficult to prepare because cooked in installments
It is cooked in advance
It is cooked almost fresh
It is cooked in bulk
It is cooked in small quantities
There is very little or no choice
It has a wide choice
It is suitable for groups, educational institutions and hospitals
It is suited for everybody
It can be served quickly
It require more arrangements and takes longer time to serve
No personal attention or fads can be accepted
Personal choice and preference can be incorporated as food is cooked on order
It is meant for package deal(AP,MAP) customers
It is meant for EP and FITs
American service is ideal
Silver service is ideal
Limited service ware needed
More service ware are required
Large pots and pans are required for cooking
Small pots and pans are required for serving various items
Less skill is required for taking order and service
Trained service personnel is required for taking order and service
The menu is simple, ordinary quality stationary is used
The menu is expensive, long lasting material is used
The menu can be orally narrated
Being elaborate the menu cannot be orally narrated
The menu is priced as a whole
The dishes are priced individually
It means table of the host
It means from the card

Other types of MENUS

Plat du jour-

 it means specialty of the day. Chefs make a few special dishes which are normally the main course; however, other courses, such as fish, sweets, and so on, may also be included depending on the geographical location of the restaurant. These special dishes can be introduced for every meal, every day, every week according to catering policy of the restaurant. Pricing of these dishes is higher than prices quoted for other dishes of the same category in a  a la carte menu. This is because it is the chef’s special. Special dishes are communicated to guest in many ways- in the form of inserts, tent cards, display on boards, and do on.
•    It acts as an effective sales tool.
•    It adds up to the image of the restaurant.
•    It reflects the skill of the chef and motivates him and his staff to introduce new recipes.
•    It gives an edge over the competitor since this menu introduces very special dishes that are exclusive to the restaurant.
If unsold. It results in food wastage since specialty dishes call for ingredients that are either not used in preparation of regular dishes of the menu or are treated differently.

Carte du jour

In French it means card of the day. It refers to all menus of the day, combining a la carte, table d’ hote, and plate du jour menus.

Cyclic menus

It is a series of table d’ hote menus for a set period of time, say for four weeks, which are repeated for a particular period, say for six months. After six months, a new set of menus will be prepared .
The length of the cyclic menu depends on season of year, availability of ingredients, and catering policy of the establishment. After a certain period, a new set of menu is prepared.
The consumers pay for the meals wither in advance or at the end of the month
•    Effective cost control
•    Stocking o unnecessary goods is avoided
•    Does not need more of storage area for perishables as the can be procured daily.
•    Food wastage is almost nil
•    Easy to plan the production schedule
•    Labour requirement can be well planned
•    Fewer cooking equipment required.
Consumers have no choice but to but to take what is offered
•    Hors d’ oeuvre
•    Potage 
•    Poisson
•    Entrée
•    Sorbet
•    Releve
•    Roti
•    Legumes
•    Entremet
•    Savoureux /Fromage
•    Dessert

I.    Hors-D Oeuvre:

 They are of spicy in nature in order to stimulate the appetite, the term is accepted as a meaning of variety of pickled or well seasoned food stuffs . They are either served from a rotating trolley or a tray a small amount of each variety being placed on the plate to make up a portion.
They are of two types-
•    Classical- all Preplated and cover is item specific
•    General- most of them platter to plate and cover is fish knife and fish fork
a)    Classical Hors d’oeuvres-
1.    Pamplemousse( Grapefruit)- This is a citrus fruit
Cover-  Grape fruit cup, doily, under liner, grapefruit spoon/tea spoon. If Grapefruit cup is not present make a lotus fold with a serviette and serve it in it.
Accompaniment- caster sugar in sugar dredger

b)    Jus( Juice) - Fruit juices like orange juice, pineapple juices, apple juices etc.
Cover- Pony tumbler, doily, teaspoon and under liner (quarter plate)
Sweet- Caster sugar
Tomato juice- Salt n Pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Powdered ginger( Tomato juice)

c)    Cocktail de fruits de mer (Sea Food Cocktail)-  shellfish like shrimps, lobster etc dressed with cocktail sauce
Cocktail sauce- mayonnaise + tomato ketchup
Cocktail de crevettes- indicates prawn
Cocktail d’homard- indicates lobster garnished with parsley
Cover- Sea food cocktail glass, doily, under liner (quarter plate) and teaspoon. In the absence of sea food cocktail glass any short tumbler, like pony tumbler, champagne saucer etc can be used.

d)    Huitres( oyster) –Bivalve molluscs served raw in clusters of dozen
Cover- in a deep plate on a bed of crushed ice, above a cloth napkin on a large plate, one oyster fork or fish fork at an angel of 45° to the cover from the edge of the table on the right hand side.
Accompaniments-  half a lemon and Oyster cruet set of condiments
•    Caynne pepper-
•    Pepper mill
•    Chilli vinegar
•    Tobasco sauce
Brown bread and butter
e)     Escargots ( snails)-
Cover- snail tong on the left side, snail pick on the right side and snails are placed on the snail dish on a bed of crushed ice in a deep plate, above a cloth napkin on a large plate.

f)    Melon- there are 4 common varieties
•    Cantaloupe
•    Honey Dew
•    Charentais
•    Water melon (pasteque)
               Cover- Boat shape cut( melon cup), half plate, doily, fruit fork, fruit knife.             
               If over ripe- serve with dessert spoon to the right of the cover
               If not very ripe and scooped out- serve with the tea spoon accompanied with                                                                                    caster sugar

g)    Caviare (caviar)- These are roe of sturgeon
Roe- processed fish eggs
Sturgeon- Particular species of fish found in Caspian Sea or black sea
•    Grainy Caviar
•    Pressed Caviar
              Grainy caviar can be further classified into-
              Beluga- white in colour
              Sevruga- dark in colour
              Ossetra- Black in colour
  It is sold in weight basis. Almas is the costliest among all the caviars which costs 23000 dollar per kg.
  Cover- Caviar Knife/ Fish Knife on the right side of the cover, caviar pot on a bed of crushed ice in a caviar plate
Accompaniment- Blinis/Toast ( blinis is a savoury Russian pan cake made of buckwheat flour), sieved egg yolk, chopped egg white, chopped shallots and segments of lemon
General Hors d’oeuvre:
Cover- Fish knife, Fish Fork and Half Plate

1.    Salads- dressed or tossed
2.    Oeuf Mayonnaise
3.    Fish- Anchovies, tuna, prawns, pickled fish, smoked fish etc
4.    Meat- Cold cuts, kebab
5.    Canapés-  one bite sized snacks with a base of bread, toppings and garnish
6.    Barquettes/ Tartlets
7.    Pate de foie gras- paste of goose liver
8.    Pate Maison-  chef decides the ingredients

Examples Of Hors d oeuvres are : -
Beet root
Potato Salad
Tomato Salad
Fish Mayonnaise
Russian Salad
The term hors d oeuvre also covers any items which are served before the soup usually known as hors d oeuvres substitutes. Examples : -
•    Tortue Claire : - clear turtle soup
•    Consommé julienne : - clear soup garnished with strips of root vegetables
•    Consommé celestine : - clear soup garnished with strips of savoury pancakes.
•    Bisque d homard :-  thick lobster- flavored soup
•    Crème de tomates : - cream of tomato
•    Soup a l oignon : - clear onion soup

II.    Potage (soup):

 Liquid extract of solid ingredients, classified as food.
Of two types-
•    Thick/ Crème
•    Thin/ Clear/ Consommé- of two types
-    With garnish
-    Without garnish
Thick Soup-
a)    Cream soup
b)    Puree
c)    Bisque
d)    Chowder
Cover- Soup Bowl/ Soup Plate, under liner (quarter plate), soup spoon, doily/ paper napkin
Examples- Crème de Tomate, Bisque d’homard, Puree of lentils

Thin Soup-
a)    With Garnish- consommé brunoise, consommé julienne, consommé Celestine, consommé Florentine, consommé royal, consommé dubarry. Always named after the garnish.
Cover-Double handled consommé cup/ soup bowl, doily, under liner (quarter plate), soup spoon

b)    Without garnish-  Consommé clair, consommé en tasse, consommé en geleeˊ
Cover- Double handled consommé cup/ soup bowl, under liner (quarter plate), doily and dessert spoon.

Exception is Petit Marmite- it is a beef and chicken consommé garnished with pieces of beef and chicken.
Cover- The earthen pot in which it is cooked, under liner and soup spoon

Accompaniment- bread is a natural accompaniment to all continental soup. Other accompaniments are Toast, cheese sticks, bread sticks, garlic rolls etc. Bread is always served before the soup in a bread basket or on the side plate.

III.    Poissons:  

The method of cooking and type of fish used may vary to some extent, but will be normally be as follows: -
•    Poached : - Salmon, Trout, Turbout (each with its appropriate garnish and accompanying sauce).
•    Fried : - Whitebait, sole(sometimes)
•    Hot Shellfish : - Lobster, crayfish, Dublin bay prawns.
•    Fish is soft-fibred and tender meat which is easily digested and helps to prepare the appetite for the heavier courses to come.
•    Cover- Fish Knife, fish fork and half plate
Examples of fish dishes are
•    Sole meuniere : - Sole shallow fried in butter.
•    Sole colbert : - Sole, flour, egg and bread crumbed and deep fried. (fillets).
•    Sole cubat : - fillet of sole poached, dressed on a mushrooms puree and coated with a cheese sauce.
•    Darne de saumon grillee, sauce bearnaise – salmon cutlet grilled with an egg- and butter based sauce flavoured with tarragon.
•    Homard Newburg : - Lobster served with thickened sauce of fish stock and cream flavoured with brandy and finished with butter.


Entrées are generally small, well garnished dishes which come from the kitchen ready for service. They are always accompanied by very rich gravy or sauce when releve follow entrée then potatoes and vegetables are not served with the latter; if, however a releve does not follow the entrée they would be served with the dish-
Cover- small fork, small knife and half plate
Popular dishes-
•    Rognon Sauteˊ Bercy- kidney with brown sauce
•    Cotelletes de porc- pork chops
•    Vol au vent au rognon
•    Poulet saute chasseur
•    Kebab oriental
Examples of this type of dish are : -
•    Poulet saute chasseur : - saute chicken in a rich brown sauce flavoured with tomatoes and mushroom.
•    Supreme de volaille sur cloche – breast and wing of chicken cooked under a cover in oven.
•    Kebab orientale: - savoury items cooked on a skewer.
•    Steak Daine : - minute steak shallow fried and flavoured with onions and mushrooms finished with red wine or cream.
•    Chateaubriand : - double fillet steak grilled.

NOTE:-Oeuf(egg), riz(rice), farineaux (flour products like pasta) are also included in this course.
•    Exception is spaghetti- cover is half plate, small fork( right side) and dessert spoon (left side)
a) oeuf en cocotte(baked egg): the cocotte is a ceramic receptacle large enough to contain one egg. the cocotte is lined with butter, egg is broken and baked in double boiler in hot oven.
b) Oeuf Benedictine: Poached egg arranged on toasted muffin and roundel of ox tongue, masked with hollandaise sauce and glazed, garnished with chopped parsley.
c) Omelette Bonne Femme: An omelette with dices of bacon, minced mushrooms and slices of onion tossed in butter.
d) Omelette Fromage: Grated parmesan. gruyere or cheddar omelette.
e) Omelette aux Tomates: Omelette rilled with tomato concasse and chopped parsley.
f) Omelette Princess: Omelette with fine herbs garnished with asparagus tips and truffles.
g) Scotch Egg: Hard boiled egg, shelled, wrapped in a layer of sausage or force meat, bread crumbed and deep fried. Served with salads and tomato sauce.
Pasta examples
(a) Ravioli Sicilienne—Cooked pasta, tossed in butter, ravioli stuffed with chopped shallots pimentos, tomatoes, sliced aubergines and minced beef and a mix of fine herbs, cover with grated cheese.
(b)Gnocchi farinacious food may be prepared from choux paste, semolina or potato. The one made from choux paste is French gnocchi and the other made from semolina or potato is Italian gnocchi.
(c) Gnocchi a la Romaine—Italian gnocchi arranged in a butter dish with melted butter sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and gruyere and gratinated in hot oven.
(d) Gnocchi a la Parisienne—French gnocchi, poached arranged in butter dish masked with-supreme sauce, sprinkled with gruyere cheese and gratinated under salamander. (Supreme sauce—Reduced veloute + cream)


Releves are normally larger than entrees and take the form of butcher’s joints which have to be carved. These joints are normally roasted. A sauce or a roast gravy with potatoes and green vegetables are always served with this course.
Cover- Large knife, large fork and large plate
Accompaniments- sauce, bread, vegetables (devoid of potato), potato preparations etc
The main dish will consist any of the following: -
•    Saddle of mutton, baron of beef, boned sirloin, braised ham.
•    Contrefilet de boeuf roti a l anglaise : - boned and roasted sirloin of beef.
•    Carre d agneau roti : - roast best end of lamb
•    Cuissot de porc roti puree de pommes : - roast legg of pork with apple sauce.
•    Gigot d agneau roti sauce menthe : - roast leg of lamb with mint sauce

VI.     Sorbets: 

Because of the length of the French classical menu, this course is considered to be the rest between courses
It is a mid course of meal. It is the time for the guest to relax. Classically it is a glass of very chilled water flavoured with a few drops of champagne, which is served for the guest to sip it casually. Often strong cigarettes and cigar were also served. It is supposed to rinse out taste buds.
Cover- champagne saucer/ pony tumbler, under liner (quarter plate), teaspoon

Now a days, rum, brandy, slush, fruit juice are also served for flavouring.

•    The sorbet must therefore be able to counteract the richness of dishes already served and build up the appetite of the dishes to follow.
•    The sorbet is a water ice plus Italian Meringue flavored with champagne or a liqueur. It should be piped in to a champagne glass which should then be served on an underplate with a teaspoon.
•    At this stage of the meal cigarettes were passed, traditionally these were Russian cigarettes and sometimes the first speech was given

VII.    Roti:

 Roast always contain roast game or poultry: - chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, quail. Each dish is accompanied by its own particular sauce and gravy, with a green salad served separately  on a cresent shaped dish. The latter is placed at the top left hand corner of the cover
Cover- large knife, large fork and large plate

Accompaniments- sauce, bread, rice, vegetables preparations, potato preparations. If rice is served a dessert spoon is kept on top of the cover

Eg. (a) Caneton Roti (Roast duckling)—The trussed bird seasoned well roasted in preheated oven served with sage and onion dressing and apple sauce. Caneton is a domestic bird.
(b) Oie Roti (Roast Goose)—The bird is trussed, seasoned and floured, roasted, served with pan gravy and apple sauce. It is served at Christmas and other occasions.
(c) Dinde Roti (Roast Turkey)—It is native of America, a famous game bird, native of america associated with Christmas, but has become all year round, also featured at Easter-and in collation with salads.

VIII. Legumes: 

At this stage the balance of the courses is gradually returning from heavy to light. We now have a vegetable dish served only with its accompanying sauce. Such vegetables. Such vegetables are artichokes, asparagus & corn on the cob, with hollandaise sauce( an egg and butter based sauce) or beurre fondue( melted butter) offered separately, in classic functions these legumes may be served on their own as a separate vegetable course.
Cover- small knife, small fork and half plat
Legumes to accompany main course might be
•    Puree de pommes (de terre) : - creamed potatoes
•    Pommes sautees: - potaoes boiled in skins peeled sliced and shalow fried.
•    Pommes Frites : - Deep fried potatoes.
•    Pommes au four: - baked jacket potato
•    Champignons grilles : - grilled mushrooms
•    Choufleur mornay: - cauliflower with a cheese sauce.
•    Haricots verts au beurre: - French beans tossed in butter


The sweet may be hot or cold.
Two types-
1. General-
All continental sweet preparation excepting ice-cream
Cover- Dessert plate, dessert fork and dessert spoon
Examples- custard, puddings, gateaux etc
2. Ice Cream-
-Plain- chocolate, strawberry, vanilla,etc
   Cover- Ice cream cup, under liner (quarter plate), doily and ice cream spoon
-Parfait- truity fruity, chocolate fudge etc
  Cover- parfait glass, parfait spoon, under liner (quarter plate), doily
-Souffles, crepes (pancakes), coupes(ice cream dishes)
•    Other examples:-
•    Crepe suzette : - pancakes in a rich fresh orange juice and  flamed with brandy.
•    Ananas Flambes au kirsch: - Pineapple flamed with cherry flavoured liquor.
•    Peahe Melba: - Vanilla Ice cream topped with a peach coated with a raspberry jam sauce and decorated with cream.
•    Bombes : - various Ice cream sweets.


 Savouries may take the form of savoury items served hot on toast or as a savoury souffle. This course is inducted in order to change the taste of the sugar palate

●Meat Savoureux
Preparation of kidney, liver of mutton or chicken served
Cover- small fork, small knife and half plate

Examples- Angels aux Cheval (oyster rolled in bacon and grilled), Diables aux cheval ( prunes rolled in bacon and grilled), canapés diane

●Fish Savoureux
Fish preparation like Tuna sur Croute ( tuna served on toast), IvanHoc ( creamed haddock on toast)
Cover- Fish knife, fish fork and half plate
Welsh rarebit: - Cheese sauce Flavoured with ale on toast gratinated.
Canape Daine :- Chicken livers rolled in bacon and grilled, placed on a warm toast.
Champignons sur croute: - mushrooms on toast.


All type of cheese may be offered together with appropriate accompaniments, the ideal cheese board will combine hard, semi-hard, soft or cream, blue and fresh cheese.
•    Cheddar      hard           England
•    Edam          hard           Holland
•    Brie             soft             France
•    Demi-sel     soft            France
•    Caerphilly   semi-hard   Wales
•    Ricotta        Fresh          Italy


 All forms of Fresh Fruits and nuts may be served accompanied by castor sugar and salt
Fruit basket or stand is provided
Cover- Half plate, fruit/small knife, fruit/ small fork
Essential accompaniment- sugar dredger (caster sugar)
Exception- Raisins Frais (grapes)- half plate, Grape scissors, bowl of water to rinse the grapes, doily, under liner( quarter plate) for the bowl and scissor and finger bowl.
BEVERAGES: Examples are: -
•    Coffee: - Cona, Cafetiere, Iced, Filter, Speciality, Decaffeinated.
•    Tea: - Indian, Ceylon, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Orange Pekoe
•    Always remember that while compiling menus beverages are not counted as a course.
•    CHASING-  An alternative sip of coffee and alcoholic beverage is taken
•    LACING- Coffee is laced with alcoholic beverage and sipped


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