In a restaurant, a menu is the list of dishes to be served or
available for a diner to select from. The items that are available for
the diner to choose from are broken down into various categories,
depending on the time of day or the event.
The compilation of a menu is the most important part of a
caterer's work. It is regarded as an art, acquired only through
experience and study. The menu is a link between the guest and the
establishment, hence it should be carefully planned by the
establishment's professionals, namely the executive chef, the food
and beverage manager and the food and beverage controller.
The word menu dates back to 1718, but the custom of
making such a list is much older. In earlier times, the escriteau (bill of
fare) or menu of ceremonial meals was displayed on the wall
loadable with the kitchen staff to follow the order in which the dishes
were to be served. It is said that in olden times, menus were like a
large dictionary with sections covering a variety of dishes. As time
progressed the lengthy single copy menu became s m aller but
increased in number allowing a number of copies placed in table
increased. Depending on the establishment and the occasion, the
menu may be plain or artistic in its presentation.