In a restaurant, there are two different types of menus which
are differentiated by the manner in which they are served and priced.
A menu may be a la carte or table d'hôte.
A La Carte Menu
An “A La Carte Menu”, is a multiple choice menu, with each
dish priced separately. If a guest wishes to place an order, an a la
carte is offered, from which one can choose the items one wants to
Traditionally, the original menus that offered consumers
choices were prepared on a small chalkboard, a la carte in French;
so foods chosen from a bill of fare are described as à la carte,
"according to the board."
In an a la carte menu all items are cooked to order including
the sauces that are made with wine, cream or mustard. Depending
on the dish chosen by the guest, the cooking time will vary. It is
necessary to inform the guests about the time the preparation might
take. An extensive a la carte menu is impressive but involves a huge
amount of mise-en-place.