Fine dining allows us to break away from the more casual settings and take part in a more formal affair. It is also known as white tablecloth dining, and typically takes place in an upper-class establishment that has a strict dress code, offers a separate wine list and, sometimes, sommeliers to assist with food and fine wine pairings.
Many of the terms found on menus in these luxury dining establishments can seem somewhat intimidating to most people. Especially if you’re not familiar with this kind of experience.
Don’t get distressed, while this is not an in-depth guide to fine dining terminology, we’ll cover enough so you can start talking the talk.
Fine Dining Menus
Á La Carte
Pronounced a-la-cart, this term is used to describe menu items that are priced individually. These items can be purchased on their own instead of as a meal.
Pronounced do-Zhoor, this term describes something that is being served that day. For example, the Soup Du Jour would simply mean “The soup of the day”.
Pronounced pre-fiks, this French term describes a fixed or set price. This terminology is usually found on a limited menu or accompanying a course with only 3-4 options. This term is interchangeable with Table d’hote.
Pronounced table-dhot, this French term is often interchangeable with Prix Fixe, meaning a set or fixed price. It is often found on a menu that offers multi-choice meals with few options at a set price.
Fine Dining Foods
Pronounced a-muz-büsh, this French term has a literal meaning of “entertains the mouth.” However, in fine dining, it is most typically referred to as a complimentary appetizer.
Pronounced suh-vee-chee, and also called cebiche, seviche or sebiche, is a South American dish typically consisting of marinated seafood or raw fish, beautifully garnished and served as an appetizer.
Pronounced kahr-pah-choh, this Italian appetizer, or Hors d’oeuvre, consists of meat or raw fish that is thinly sliced and pounded flat.
Pronounced kon-suh-mei, this dish is a clear broth soup made from a concentrated stock or bouillon. It is clarified via a process using egg whites to remove any fats or sediments from the broth.
Pronounced fwä-ɡrä, this high-end dish is the liver of a specially fattened goose or duck. It is considered a luxury food and a staple of fine dining.
Pronounced kom-pot, compote is a dessert made from whole or fruit pieces in a sugar syrup. It originates from medieval Europe.
Pronounced meh-zei. Traditionally Mediterranean, mezze is a series of small dishes served as appetizers and is meant to stimulate the appetite. It is also commonly served in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa.
Pronounced rō, this luxury food item is a mass of fully ripe eggs from a female fish and sometimes includes the ovaries. It is often served on crackers.
Pronounced koh-bay, is a luxury beef and a high-grade Wagyu. It hails from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle and is raised under strict guidelines. The beef is fatty, but rich and is considered the best beef in the world.
Fine Dining Cooking
Pronounced say-nyon, the direct translation from French is bloody or bleeding. It is commonly used when ordering rare steak.
Pronounced ben-kui, this is a French term simply meaning well done.
Pronounced kru-do, Italian for “raw”, this is a dish usually consisting of seafood that is often seasoned and served with a sauce.
Pronounced ah-te-zen, this means limited quantity, and not mass produced. This means the dish is a specialty item, made by hand and is limited in stock.
Pronounced fär-see, this is a stuffing served in or on certain dishes.
Pronounced gra-ne-ta, and originally from Sicily, it is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, various flavourings or fruit.
Pronounced Con-fe, this dish is typically goose, duck or pork meat that has been cooked and preserved in its own fat and juices.
This form of cooking sees the meat seared at a very high temperature and then transferred to a closed pot with liquid, sometimes fat, and cooked at a low temperature.
This means to cook fruit or vegetables by briefly placing them into scalding hot water, then quickly removing and placing them in ice water to stop the cooking process.
A la broche
Pronounced a-la-brawsh, this cooking method means to cook on a skewer.
Pronounced Oh-mah-kah-say, this is a term that originates from Japan. It is simply a phrase that means “I’ll leave it up to you.” It originates from ‘trust’ and can lead to a unique dining experience.
Fine Dining Drink Terms
This term refers to vintage wine where grapes were all (or primarily) grown and harvested in a single year.
This is a wine that is matured without contact to wood.
This is a wine that is not sparkling or fortified.
This is a variety of sweet wines.
This is a very high-quality wine.
This is a larger bottle of 1.5L.
This is a wine made with 2 or more types of grapes, sometimes from different regions.
This is a wine that is not thought of as sweet.
A mix of red and white sparkling wine.
This is a wine that is somewhere between a light red or dark rosé.
Looking for more? We have tips for all types of dining and cuisine you can find below:
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