From lunch by the pool to dinner for a large wedding in the ballroom, private clubs offer members the unique ability to dine in various ways.
Dining is a club’s top amenity and almost every activity within a club revolves around it. However, there are many differences between the menu types, service styles, and even the equipment used.
A la carte is the member dining experience within the club. The French phrase “a la carte” translates as “according to the card”, which in this case, refers to the menu. An a la carte menu composes all the items available in a club’s restaurant. Drinks, desserts, appetizers, entrees and side dishes are listed on this menu with prices and a short description of the ingredients that are used in the making of that dish. A member may choose any item they want from the menu according to their tastes and order as little or as much amount as they want. A la carte is also a plated, sit-down meal, which is served by waiters and cooked on a kitchen’s line.
The term à la carte comes from a revolution in restaurant fare that occurred sometime around the turn of the nineteenth century. Before this time, a restaurant would offer its meals table d’hôte, which describes a meal that is preselected and served to everyone partaking, with no options other than to eat what is put before you. However, the a la carte menu came into existence when people realized that there was a lot of food wastage in the buffet or platter system.
Banquets are structured quite differently. A banquet is an event held by an organization or a member for a specific event where there is a predetermined menu, food stations or buffets. Banquets are a convenient method for feeding a large number of people with minimal staff. While some events may be plated, a majority of banquets are buffet-style where the members and guests can serve themselves. Because banquets usually serve higher numbers, the kitchen prepares larger quantities of food with larger equipment in a part of the kitchen away from the line.
Every club has a different focus when it comes to how they split their dining between a la carte and banquets, some relying more heavily on one than the other. And while most clubs have had to rely on a la carte recently, dining will continue to be an amenity at the center of a club.