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What's the difference between menu prices and a la carte prices on French menus?

What's the difference between menu prices and a la carte prices on French menus?

Old Sep 6th, 2001, 11:45 AM
  #1  
Gail
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What's the difference between menu prices and a la carte prices on French menus?

I've been looking at menus on reservethebest.com and noticed that there are two (or three) prices listed. One says "menu" and one (or two) others say "a la carte". I know what a la carte means--normally--but how do these two differ? Thanks for any help.
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 11:53 AM
  #2  
Douglas
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Gail
Menu refers to a set price meal. It will be (usually) starter, main course, and dessert, although sometimes a fourth course will be included. Most places will offer perhaps three menus at different prices, each having different items. You will almost always save money by selecting the menu as everything is included except drinks (although often they will include coffee with dessert). Ala carte is same as here - you pay for each course and it will always cost more in total.

Choosing the menu can be a very good way to get a good meal at a decent price and is very common in France. It may also be shown as Prix Fixe, but most places post a board showing the menus available that day along with the price for each.
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 12:52 PM
  #3  
elvira
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Confusion lies in the definition of menu. To Americans, it means the sheet of paper with the food for sale - dotted with grease in a diner, encased in plastic and red leather in your local boite. To the French, it means a pre-set meal.

The grease-spotted paper is "la carte" in French, hence "a la carte" means "from the grease-spotted paper".

So don't ask for the menu in a French restaurant unless you wanted the three course meal...ask for "la carte" if you want to look at the red leather book.
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 01:01 PM
  #4  
Fred
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..........The amount you see on the "carte", (our menu), is the total price including tax and tip. The best value is the "menu", pronounced "men-new" - a priced fixed dinner with a choice of entree (our appetizer), plat (our entree), and dessert. Coffee is usually not included. Incidentally, coffee in France is not served like it is here. There you get one cup - that's it. If you want more you pay for it. Ordering a la carte will cost more but you have more selections and can order just the course you want. Some restaurants include wine in their "menu". For more Paris information e-mail me – [email protected]
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 01:02 PM
  #5  
Ursula
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Elvira: Very often the "menu" is part of "la carte" or the red leather book.
Usually, the "menu" is a good deal, moneywise at least. Often, one can choose among at least 3 starters, 3 main courses and 3 desserts. Most top places have "menu" as well. Unless you choose a very expensive (bottled)wine, you will not have a bad surprise and you can figure out what the bill will be.
I am not speaking about those places who offer a "menu" for FF 100.- like carottes rapées, steak frites, and plain joghurt, but places who range between FF 200.-/300.-.

Gail: Menus are also very popular in Italy, not only in France.

 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 02:57 PM
  #6  
Christina
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The prix fixe or "menu" meals have always been part of the "carte" in all restaurants I've been in, even casual brasseries. They also usually do post them outside on a blackboard or something, but they are also on the "carte" so you can look over everything, compare prices and decide, so it is usually safe to simply ask for the carte always. The day's set menu(s) is often on a removeable piece of paper or something clipped within the general "carte". In a lot of restaurants, it seems the "menu" is actually comprised of items on the regular carte and sometimes it is daily specials that are something different, maybe due to what was good in market. It is always cheaper to order the menu than the same items a la carte, but not always that much--sometimes I'll order a la carte if there is a special dessert I really want which isn't on the menu and instead I'll drop one of the courses to come out the same price (usually starter/appetizer or the cheese course as I can't eat both cheese and dessert). Usually when you see guides with one a la carte price given (like Michelin), I think that's some estimate of average dinner cost ordered that way.
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 03:10 PM
  #7  
Capo
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The word menu itself is, like so many words in the English language, of French origin (owing, in large part, to the Norman invasion and rule of Great Britain.)

From Merriam-Webster's online:

Etymology: French, from menu small, detailed, from Old French -- more at MINUET
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 03:11 PM
  #8  
Gail
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Thanks to all for the excellent explanations! One more question, though: what about when it says "degustations"? Thanks again.
 
Old Sep 6th, 2001, 03:22 PM
  #9  
Capo
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Degustations are the feelings I get when I think of George W. Bush. :~)

Seriously, the literal translation of degustations is "tastings."
 
Old Sep 9th, 2001, 04:15 PM
  #10  
lynn
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Hi Gail:
Just to put our experiences from this past month on the table as it were. After a week in France I was so full that I decided just to have salad and appetizer instead of the prix fixe menu. The salad I ordered was the same one my husband had from the prix fixe menu and my salad was twice the size of his also the same with the appetizer I ordered. The size was bigger. I spent probably as much (maybe a bit less)on these two things and although it was still more than I needed with regards to portion size, it was just perfect for my appetite that particular evening.
Not sure if this is standard as normally we ordered from the prix fixe or "menu" instead of a la carte.
Have a great time.
Regards,
Lynn
 
Old Sep 9th, 2001, 04:59 PM
  #11  
x
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Capo-that last remark of yours may reveal more about your sexual than food preferences. This is a travel board. Please save the rest.
 
Old Sep 9th, 2001, 05:20 PM
  #12  
Capo
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Yes, you're correct, this is a travel board. And, on this travel board, in a thread about French menus, Gail asked what "degustations" means, and I told her what the literal interpretation is. If there is another, more colloquial, interpretation, then perhaps someone could inform Gail what it is.
 
Old Sep 9th, 2001, 07:04 PM
  #13  
clairobscur
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Capo is right about the translation of "degustation".

Usually, a "menu degustation" is similar to an aordinary menu except that you don't have any choice at all. There are only 1 starter, one dish, etc...It usually includes specialities of the chef, and is intented to let you discover his cuisine for a moderate price ("menus degustations" are usually found in above-the-average priced restaurants).

Sometimes, the "menu-degustation" include instead samples of several dishes. But it's much less common.
 
Old Sep 9th, 2001, 07:18 PM
  #14  
clairobscur
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Just to add that there's a little subtelty about the word "degustation". To taste can be translated by "gouter" or "deguster".

"gouter" is neutral (at least in modern usual french). When you "goute" something, you're trying to figure out if you like it or not. But when you "deguste" something, it implies that you're enjoying it and take your time, trying to make the best of it.

Just to point out that degustation is quite the opposite of "disgusting" (which in french is translated by "degoutant")
 
Old Sep 10th, 2001, 01:22 AM
  #15  
x
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capo, the political crapo.
 
Old Sep 10th, 2001, 08:31 AM
  #16  
Jean
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George W. Bush me fait le malade et ce n'est pas une chose savoureuse
 
Old Sep 10th, 2001, 10:44 AM
  #17  
x
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jean-that's why you should express your political tastes in a forum devoted to something besides travel, such as adult diapers.
 
Old Sep 10th, 2001, 12:37 PM
  #18  
curious
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Are there any Europeans that like George W. ?

 
Old Sep 10th, 2001, 03:50 PM
  #19  
neville
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Curious.........NO !!
 
Old Sep 13th, 2001, 12:27 AM
  #20  
x
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Capo's wild-eyed rant on the European board equating the terrorist attacks on D.C. and NYC with the US bombing of Dresden during a declared world war is a remarkable snapshot of the character of a sick person. A bientot.
 

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