Table d'hôte is a French phrase which literally means "host's
table". It is used to indicate a fixed menu where multi-course meals
with limited choices are charged at a fixed price. Such a menu may
also be called prix fixe ("fixed price"). It usually includes three or five
courses meal available at a fixed price. It is also referred to as a
fixed menu. Because the menu is set, the cutlery on the table may
also already be set for all of the courses, with the first course cutlery
on the outside, working in towards the plate as the courses progress.
In olden days, when the inns or dining establishments
offering a limited choice in the menu was not preferred by the
guests, they started offering an a la carte menu for guests to select
the type of food they wanted to eat.
Fixed menus or table d'hote menus are still used in various
forms such as buffet menus, conference packages and on special
occasions. A table d'hote menu comprises a complete meal at a
predetermined price. It is sometimes printed on a menu card or as in
the case of banquets, it is agreed upon by the host of the party. A
banquet style of fixed menu has more elaborate choices ranging
from the soup to the dessert. For the banquets, the hosts invariably
fixes or selects the menu in consultation with the hotel staff in
Most of the banquet food served in India is normally of Indian
food. For this, a printed format offering a choice of vegetarian and
non-vegetarian dishes is prepared, from which the guests make their
choice. Western style fixed menus normally provide the choice of a
starter or soup, a main course, and finally a dessert. In each course
there could be a choice of dishes to suit the tastes of individual
Table d'hote menus should be well planned and balanced. As
the guest is not given a chance to plan his own meal, the meal
should be interesting, without any similarity in the colour and taste of
the courses as well as being palatable, delicious and well presented.
If the main course is heavy, then the first course should be
lighter, and act as an appetite stimulant for the courses to follow.
Dishes that are heavy and hard to digest should be avoided. The
colour, varieties of ingredients used, and the garnishes should, if
possible, be different for each course.
Fixed menus are prevalent in transport catering which include
air, rail, and sea passengers. The guests have a variety of fixed or
table d'hote menus, with virtually no choice offered to the
passengers (except the first class air passengers). Cruise liners may
have elaborate fixed menus with multiple choices built into each