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Formal dinner menu


mojoman
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Friends, eGulleteers, and Citizens of Planet Earth,

Help a brother out.

1. What are the "classic" courses in a formal meal?

2. What is the "correct" order of courses?

I have googled to no avail.

For a dinner party I am considering:

1. Amuse #1

2. Amuse #2

3. Amuse #3

4. Soup

5. Very light poultry course (1 or 2 boneless chicken wings)

6. Pasta

7. Main (beef 2 ways)

8. Salad

9. Dessert

What say ye?

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I expect the classic formal dinner to consist of seven, possibly eight courses, in this order:

amuse

soup

fish

sorbet (or other palate cleanser)

a meat or fowl dish

salad (often served with cheese)

dessert

and coffee and/or tea

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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You'd also have to define the context of a "formal dinner". Melissa's menu (with the exception of the amuse) is a classic Western European progression. I don't think it's the same in an Italian meal, and it's definitely not that for Chinese or Japanese (especially kaiseki).

Based on the read of your proposed menu, are you confusing a formal menu progression with a tasting menu? They're similar though different beasts.

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I'd be going:

Amuse*

Soup

Vegetable

Fish

(cleanser/sorbet)*

Poultry

Meat

(cleanser/sorbet)*

Cheese

Dessert

Petit Fours*

* - Not a course as such

Also, the poultry course and meat course could be combined into a single meat course.

I agree with this one. This is a beautiful progression of courses, just as long as the flavors progress just as nicely.

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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I'd be going:

Amuse*

Soup

Vegetable

Fish

(cleanser/sorbet)*

Poultry

Meat

(cleanser/sorbet)*

Cheese

Dessert

Petit Fours*

* - Not a course as such

Also, the poultry course and meat course could be combined into a single meat course.

I agree with this one. This is a beautiful progression of courses, just as long as the flavors progress just as nicely.

Thanks! LOL! :wub:

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You'd also have to define the context of a "formal dinner". Melissa's menu (with the exception of the amuse) is a classic Western European progression. I don't think it's the same in an Italian meal, and it's definitely not that for Chinese or Japanese (especially kaiseki).

Based on the read of your proposed menu, are you confusing a formal menu progression with a tasting menu? They're similar though different beasts.

wattacetti,

You are so right that I'm confusing the two. I guess this is a tasting menu; that's what I'm familiar with.

It was great to know what the courses are and progression for the formal dinner too.

Thanks all.

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I've spent a little time asking this question and, while I don't have any of the references around right now, my general takeaway is that a formal can consist of darn near anything you want to, within a few simple rules -- progressing from lighter to heavier and from soup/vegetable to some roasty red meat. You also want to make sure the setting is formal, as well, flowers, candles, fresh silver with every course, a reasonable effort to match wines and keep the new glasses coming.

Regarding what's been posted so far I'd cook or eat any combination I think three amuses is a little much and sorbet courses seem a little old-timey (though delightful); serving a fish, chicken and meat course might be a little heavy for modern appetites and I'm surprised that no one threw in either a pasta course or a shellfish course. Oh, yeah -- a lot of places seem to senf our

which I guess leaves me with.

Hors d'oevres

Amuse

Shellfish/sea urchin/clams

Soup

Fish or lobster

Roast or Red meat

Salad and cheese

Fruit dessert

Chocolate Dessert

Coffee and petite fours

I'd probably serve a sparkler, a big-ish white, a nice red and if I was feeling grand, an assortment of dessert wines, including a red and a white.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You are so right that I'm confusing the two.  I guess this is a tasting menu; that's what I'm familiar with.

It was great to know what the courses are and progression for the formal dinner too.

Well, there's nothing stopping you from re-adapting your menu to a formal Western menu structure. roosterchef21's progression is great:

amuse (whatever you wanted)

soup (small portion; replaces amuse #2)

vegetable (could be your salad; replaces amuse #3)

Fish (you could modify and insert your pasta here or replace altogether with a straight fish)

Poultry (chicken wings? how about quail suprêmes)

Meat (your beef duo)

Cheese

Dessert

If you throw out some of the progression and elect on a non-traditional progression, I'd move the pasta forward. Don't think I'd want a whole lot of starch right before a beef dish.

Also plenty of recent discussions on relative quantities of food in such a menu.

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I'd probably serve a sparkler, a big-ish white, a nice red and if I was feeling grand, an assortment of dessert wines, including a red and a white.

I've typically planned a bottle a course, with the position of the sparklers and stickies dependent on the menu. Then again, that only works if you've got really serious drinkers or enough diners to consume the entire bottle at each course.

I think I'll have to consider a formal progression the next time I do a tasting just to see how it works; I've usually been atypical whenever I've planned meals.

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I'd probably serve a sparkler, a big-ish white, a nice red and if I was feeling grand, an assortment of dessert wines, including a red and a white.

I've typically planned a bottle a course, with the position of the sparklers and stickies dependent on the menu. Then again, that only works if you've got really serious drinkers or enough diners to consume the entire bottle at each course.

I think I'll have to consider a formal progression the next time I do a tasting just to see how it works; I've usually been atypical whenever I've planned meals.

Re: the wines, I find that unless you have a dedicated wine server and a zillion glasses (neither of which I am fortunate enough to possess) serving eight or nine different wines while juggling the food gets to be a pain. Plus, I'm not as convinced that there is a single "perfect" wine for every different plate, so I don't mind a bit of overlap and none of my guests complain. Since my friends all drink like fish, too much wine is never a problem, however. :wink:

Check this out for some old school manners, including proper etiquette for you butler to "fill a place" in the event of a last-minute cancellation by gentleman (which would result in the horror of two ladies being seated together.

  It may be due to the war period, which accustomed everyone to going with very little meat and to marked reduction in all food, or it may be, of course, merely vanity that is causing even grandparents to aspire to svelte figures, but whatever the cause, people are putting much less food on their tables than formerly. The very rich, living in the biggest houses with the most imposing array of servants, sit down to three, or at most four, courses when alone, or when intimate friends who are known to have moderate appetites, are dining with them. 

  Under no circumstances would a private dinner, no matter how formal, consist of more than:

  1. Hors d’oeuvre

  2. Soup

  3. Fish

  4. Entrée

  5. Roast

  6. Salad

  7. Dessert

  8. Coffee

 

  The menu for an informal dinner would leave out the entrée, and possibly either the hors d’oeuvre or the soup. 

  As a matter of fact, the marked shortening of the menu is in informal dinners and at the home table of the well-to-do. Formal dinners have been as short as the above schedule for twenty-five years. A dinner interlarded with a row of extra entrées, Roman punch, and hot dessert is unknown except at a public dinner, or in the dining-room of a parvenu. About thirty-five years ago such dinners are said to have been in fashion!

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks Busboy and wattacetti.

On the subject of wine, do you think there's any way I can get away serving an Amarone with beef? I know it's supposed to be served with game, especially boar, but will beef be OK?

Luckily, I live near a Metro stop so I will recommend that they take Metro.

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Alternate "small" and "large" courses.

Never more than three courses of cutlery on the table. Other courses should have the cutlery brought in on the underplate

A version if the classic progression:

1. Amuse 1 (served with pre-dinner drinks befoe sitting), May be just olives, or bite sized canapes

2. Amuse 2 Same but hot

3, Amuse 3 At table

4. Oysters or other shell fish

5. Soup (choice of thick or thin)

6. Fish

7. Salad or sorbet

8. Foie or Game

9. Asparagus or artichokes or pasta or melon or the like

10 Meat (with potato and vegetables)

11 Cold desert (ice)

12 Hot desert

13 Cheeses

14 Coffee. desert and petit four

More courses can be added, such as a third sweet (chocolate)or a savoury, and fruit or desert can be a seperate course, or pairs of courses omitted.

This is Service a La Russe, where each course is served at table, and was popular from the mid ninteenth century only. Before that it was Service a la Francais, where each series of dishes (a remove) was brought out at once - more like buffet style, before being rmoved for the next series,

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This is Service a La Russe, where each course is served at table, and was popular from the mid ninteenth century only. Before that it was Service a la Francais, where each series of dishes (a remove) was brought out at once - more like buffet style, before being rmoved for the next series,

Just for fun, here's a formal menu for 16-20 drawn up by the great Beauvilliers before the Russian service -- Service La Russe (which gave its name to the LaRousse Gastronomique) -- came in vogue.

Two soups:

Aux petits oingons; consommé with sago

Two removes:

Roast beef (sic) of Ardennes mutton; Turkey en daube

Eight or ten entrées:

Cutles a la Soubise; Sliced chicken with cucumbers; Barded [?] veal sweetbreads on a puree of sorrel; Topside of veal en bedeau; Two chickens en lezards; Timbale of lasagne; Fillets of sole a la Orly; Yound wild rabbits and eels en gibelotte; Casserole of veal sweetbreads and tendrons; Fillet of beef en serpentin

Two main entremets:

Gateau de mille-feuilles; Small carp en bleu

Four roast dishes:

Quails; Pigeons; Hind quarters of barded [again!] lamb; breaded capon a l'anglaise

Two salads

Eight or ten entremets:

Biscuit de Nioffe Gateau de vermicelle [Dumas: he writes, he cooks!]; Creme aux pistaches renversees; Apricot fritters; Petits pois a la francaise; Lettuce a l'espagnole; Buttered cauliflower; artichokes a l'italienne.

Heck of a meal, non?

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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As someone who regularly throws elaborate, multi-course dinner parties, my advice would be: Don't worry so much about what's classic, but rather make sure the courses progress in a manner that makes sense (I know that's a bit vague--someone had mentioned light to heavy, but also bland to spicy, sweet to salty or vice versa, etc. need to be considered), and that varies textures, colors, and ingredients. I also do very much agree with the big course, small course, big course, small course, and so on, that someone previous had suggested. It gives the guests time to breathe. Having just cooked a complicated 10 course-r this past Sunday, variety is the key. And include plenty of "refreshers" (i.e palate cleansers)--but these can take unusual forms. not just sorbets but things like crisp raw veggies as an accompaniment to a small course.

As for wine, depending on how formal the party is (or your guests are), it is perfectly acceptable in my book to put one white and one red glass on the table, and have them re-used for different wines (I know...blasphemy!). This is what I did this past Sunday, and no one complained, nor did the wines suffer from having a drop of their predecessor in the glass. [Also, if you are lucky, one of your friends might volunteer--or be conned into volunteering--to play sommelier for the evening, freeing you from announcing and pouring wine for everyone.]

And I very much liked Shaimanese's post.

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As someone who regularly throws elaborate, multi-course dinner parties, my advice would be: Don't worry so much about what's classic, but rather make sure the courses progress in a manner that makes sense (I know that's a bit vague--someone had mentioned light to heavy, but also bland to spicy, sweet to salty or vice versa, etc. need to be considered), and that varies textures, colors, and ingredients. I also do very much agree with the big course, small course, big course, small course, and so on, that someone previous had suggested. It gives the guests time to breathe. Having just cooked a complicated 10 course-r this past Sunday, variety is the key. And include plenty of "refreshers" (i.e palate cleansers)--but these can take unusual forms. not just sorbets but things like crisp raw veggies as an accompaniment to a small course.

As for wine, depending on how formal the party is (or your guests are), it is perfectly acceptable in my book to put one white and one red glass on the table, and have them re-used for different wines (I know...blasphemy!). This is what I did this past Sunday, and no one complained, nor did the wines suffer from having a drop of their predecessor in the glass. [Also, if you are lucky, one of your friends might volunteer--or be conned into volunteering--to play sommelier for the evening, freeing you from announcing and pouring wine for everyone.]

And I very much liked Shaimanese's post.

IMO, the first course should be something simple and light and every course thereafter should build in intensity and complexity until cheese/dessert course.

E.g

Amuse: Parmesan Mousse with fresh Truffle - a little bit salty to get the palate started

Soup: Watercress Soup with Slow Poached Quail Egg

Vegetable: Assiette of Vegetables - Carrot Puree, Cauliflower Veloute, Confit Tomatoes

Fish/Seafood: Poached Oysters with a Champagne Foam

Cleanser: Sorbet

Poultry/Game: Terrine of Pork & Quail, Spiced Apple Chutney, Walnut Bread

Meat: Seared Loin of Venison, Truffled Polenta, Horseradish Beurre Blanc

Each course above builds on the intensity of it's predecessor whether it be more complex using more spices e.g the terrine or more components to a dish - assiette.

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