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In restaurants, à la carte (//; lit. 'at the card') is the practice of ordering individual dishes from a menu in a restaurant, as opposed to table d'hôte, where a set menu is offered. It is an early 19th century loan from French meaning "according to the menu".
The individual dishes to be ordered may include side dishes, or the side dishes may be offered separately, in which case, they are also considered à la carte.
The earliest examples of à la carte are from 1816 for the adjectival use ("à la carte meal", for example) and from 1821 for the adverbial use ("meals were served à la carte"). These pre-date the use of the word menu, which came into English in the 1830s.
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- "A la carte". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- Oxford English Dictionary
- "à la carte – definition of à la carte in English from the Oxford dictionary". oxforddictionaries.com. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- Richard Bailey, Eating Words, Michigan Today, 13 May 2008. Archived 25 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Menu", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin
- Baraban, R.S.; Durocher, J.F. (2010). Successful Restaurant Design. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-470-25075-4.
- Committee on Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2007). Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools. National Academies Press. page 83.
- Mosimann, Anton (1983). Cuisine à la carte. Macmillan Publishers Limited. 304 pages.